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Full text of "Heroic virtue : a portion of the treatise of Benedict XIV on the beatification and canonization of the servants of God"

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And others who are commonly reputed among Catholics to have died 
in the odour of sanctity, especially in modern times. 

1. It is proposed to publish a Senes of such Lives, translate 
from the Italian, French, Spanish, German, and Latin, in small 

8vo. volumes, of about 400 pages each, and to bring out four 
volumes in the year. 

2. The Editor and Translators not making any profit on tne 
work, the volumes will be sold as cheaply as possible. Each vol. 
will be sold separately, and will be complete in itself, except when 
one Life occupies more volumes than one, and the price not ex 
ceed 4s. 

3. The works translated from will be in most cases the Lives 
drawn up for or from the processes of canonization or beatification, 
as being more full, more authentic, and more replete with anec 
dote, thus enabling the reader to become better acquainted with 
the Saint s disposition and spirit ; while the simple matter-of-fact 
style of the narrative is, from its unobtrusive character, more 
adapted for spiritual reading than the views and generalizations, 
and apologetic extenuations of more recent biographers. 

4. The objects of the friends who have jointly undertaken this 
task have been 1. To supply English Catholics with a cabinet- 
library of interesting as well as edifying reading, especially for 
families, schools, and religious refectories, which would for many 
reasons be particularly adapted for these times, and would with 
God s blessing act as a counter influence to the necessarily deaden 
ing and chilling effects which the neighbourhood of heresy and the 
consequent prevalence of earthly principles aud low views of grace 

may have on the temper and habits of mind even of the faithful ; 
2. To present to our other countrymen a number of samples of the 
fruit which the system, doctrine, and moral discipline established 
by the holy and blessed Council of Trent have produced, and 
which will be to inquirers really in earnest about their souls, an 
argument more cogent than any that mere controversy can allege , 
and 3. To satisfy a humble desire which they feel to spread the 
honour and love of the ever-blessed Queen of Saints, by showing 
how greatly an intense devotion to her aided in forming those 
prodigies of heroic virtue with which the Holy Ghost has been 
pleased to adorn the Church since the schism of Luther, more than 
in almost any previous times, and whose actions, with a few excep 
tions, are known to English laymen only in a very general way, 
and from meagre abridgments ; while the same motive will prevent 
the Series being confined to modern saints exclusively. 

5. The work is published with the permission and approval of 
superiors. Every volume containing the Life of a person not yet 
canonized or beatified by the Church will be prefaced by a protest 
in conformity with the decree of Urban VII L, and in all Lives 
which introduce questions of mystical theology great care will 
be taken to publish nothing which has not had adequate sanc 
tion, or without the reader being informed of the nature and 
amount of the sanction. 

late atoatw 


1,2 S. Philip Neri, 1595, 

3 Companions ofS. Philip Neri. 

4 S. Thomas of Villanova, 1555. S. Francis 

Solano, 1610. 

5 ... S. Rose of Lima 161 7. B.Colombaof Rieti,1501. 

S. Juliana Falconieri, 1340. 

6 Fathers of the Oratory. B. Sebastian Valfre, 

1710. De Santi, 1650. Matteucci, 1629. 

7,8 S. Ignatius, 1556. 

9 B. Sebastian of Apparizio, 1600. 

30,13, 12, 13, 14 S, Alphonso Liguori, 1787. 

15 Com panions of St Alphonso Liguori. 

16 V. Father Claver. S. J. 1654. Cardinal Odes- 

calchi, S. J., 1841. 

17 ^ F. Anchieta, S. J. V. Alvera von Virmundt, 

1649. V. John Berchmans, S. J., 1621. 

18 S. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, 1607. 

19 Ven. Benedict Joseph Labre, 1/83. 

20 Fathers of the Oratory: V. Fabrizio dall Aste, 

1655. F. Mariano Sozzini, 1680. 

21, 22 V. Margaret Mary Alacociue, 1690. S. Catherine 

of Bologna, 1463. 

23 S. Joseph Calasanctius, 1648. B. Ippolito 

Galautini, 1619. 

Uniform with the above. Pope Benedict XIV., on Heroic Vir 
tue, vol. .1 . 
Essay on Canonizations by the Rev. F. Fauer, Cong. Orat. 

in Ijanlf, or Contemplated 

S. Stanislas Kostka, S. J., 1568. F. Segneri, S. J. 1694. 
S. John of God, 1550. F. Piuamonti, S. J. 1703. 

S. Felix of Cantalice, 1587. F. Balthasar Alvarez, S. J. 1580. 
S. Camillas of Leiiis, 1614. M. Olier, Founder of the Semi- 
is. Gertrude, 1292. nary of St. Sulpice, 1657, 

S. Teresa, 1582. F. Liciuio Pio, Founder of the 

S. Veronica Giuliani, 1727. Oratory of Bologna, 1632. 

S. Peter of Alcantara, 1562. F. Biiii, Founder of the Oratory 
S. Giovanni Colombini,Founder of Florence, 1635. 

of the Gesuats, 1367. Brother Dioiiisio Pieragostini, 

S. John Francis Regis, S. J. 1 640 of the Oratory of Canaeriuo, 
S. Francis Jerome, S. J., 1716. 1665. 

S. Jane Frances deChantal, 1641 F. Prever, of the Oratory of 
S. Vincent of Paul, 1660. Turin, l75i. 

S. Fraucesca Romana, 1440. Sister Bernardine Roussen of 
S. Cajetan of Thienna, 1547. .Boulogne, 1823. 

S. Turibius of Lima, 1606. Florence de, 

S. Francis of Assisi, 1226. Benedictiness, 1638. 

S. Charles Borromeo, 1584. The Fioretti of S. Francis. 
S. Philip Benizi, J285. F. Prosper Airoli, of the Roman 

S. Pascal Baylou, 1592. Oratory, 1656. 

S. Catherine of Siena, 1380. Flaminia Papi, Roman Lady. 
S. Francis Borgia, S. J. 1572. S. Aloysius, S. J. 1591. 
S. John Capistnm, 1456. S. Fidelis of Sigmaringa, 1622. 

S. Francis Xavier, S. J. 1552. S. Jerome ^Einihani, 1537. 
S. James de la Marchc, 14/6. S. Laurence Giustiniau, 1455. 
S. John of the Cross, 1591. S. John Cautius, 1473. 
S. Louis Bertrand, 1581. S. Seraphiuo di Monte Granario, 

The Martyrs of Gorcum, 1572. .1604. 
S. Mary of Oignies, 1213. S. John of Matha, 1213. 

fc>. Pius V. 1572. [1684. S. Margaret of Cortona, 1297. 

B Bona veutura of Barcelona, S, Nicholas of Toientmo 1306. 
B. Angela of Foligno. S. Andrew Avelliuo, 1608. 

B. Ambrosio Sanedoui, Domi- S. Elzear of Salvan, 1323. 

nican. S. Lidano, Abbot, 1118. 

B. Julian of Augustine, 1606. S. Andrew Corsini, 1373. 
B. Baptiste Varani, 1527. S. Delphiua, wife of S. Elzear, 

B. Bernard of Offida, 1694. S. Bruno, 1125. [1309. 

V. Maria Clothilda, Q,ueen of S. Juliana of Retinne, 1258. 

Sardinia, 1802. S. Lidwiue, 1380. 

B. Peter Urraca, 1657. S. Joseph of Cupertino, 1663. 

B. Leonard of Port Maurice 1751 >o. John Nepoinuc, 1383. 
B. Giambattista deila Con- S. Louis of France, 1270. 

cezioue, 1613. S. Bouaventure, 1274. 

B. Laurence of Brindisi, 1619. S. Raymond of Pennafort, 1275. 
V. Camilla Borghese Orsiui. S. Peter Paschal, 1300. 
V. Mariana of Gesu, 1645. S. Benedict XI., 1304. 

Cardinal Bellarmine,S. J,1621. S. Elizabeth Q,ueen of Portugal, 
V. Paul of the Cross, 1775. 1336. 

V. Yvan of the French Oratory, S. John Bridlington, 1375. 

and Founder of the Order ol S. Joachim ol Siena, 1380. 

our Lady of Mercy, 1653. S. Peter of Luxembourg, 1387. 
F. Auger, S. J. 1591. S. John of Pisu, 1435. 

F. Viucent Caraua. S. J. 1649. S. Joanna, Queen of France 1505 

S, Bernardin of Siena, 1444, 
S. Peter Regalati, 1456, 
S. John of Sahagun, 1479, 
S. Casimir of Poland, 1483, 
S. James of Sclavonia, 14(5.5, 
S. Veronica of Milan, 1497, 
S. Joseph of Leonissa, 16 12, 
S. Marie de Secours, 
S. Francis Caracciolo, 1608, 
S. Louis of Toulouse, 1297, 
S. Natalie, 

S. Francis of Sales, 1622, 
S. John the Calybite, 450, 
S. Thomas Aquinas, 1247, 
S. Dominic, 1221, 
S, Clare of Montefalco, 1308, 
S. Zita, 1272, 

B. Giovanna Maria Bonomi, 


B. Nicolas Albergati, 1643, 
B. Gregory Louis Barbadigo, 

B. John Marinoni, 1562, 

B. Joseph Oriol, 1 602, . 

B. John Ribera, 1611, 

B. Cardinal Tommasi, 1713, 

B. Maria Vittoria Fornari, 1617, 

B. Mary of the Incarnation, 1618 

B. Elizabetta Picenardi, 

B. Catherine Thomasia, Augus- 

tinianess, 1574, 
B. Andrea Dotti, 1315, 
B. Henry Suso, 1365, 
S. Agnes of Montepulciano, 1317 The Seven Blessed Founders of 

S. Catherine di Ricci 1590, *> the Servites, 

S. Pacificus, 1721, B. Felice, 

S. Angela de Merici, 1540, B. Giacomo Filippo Bertoni, 

S. John Joseph of the Cross 1 734 B. Simon of Roxas,! 624, 
S. Antoninus, 1459, B. Gioachino Piccolomini, 

B. Francesco Patrizi, 
B. Peter de Caputiis, Domini 
can, 1445, 
B. Angelo Porro, 
B. Bernard Scamacca, Domini 
can, 1486, 

S. Giacinta Mariscotti, 164 

S. Vincent Ferrer, 1419, 

S. Catherine of Genoa, 

S. Clare of Assisi, 1253, 

S. Francis of Paula, 1508, 

S. Benedict of Philadelphi, 1589 


1510, x > 

B. Joanna Soderini, 1367, 
B. Michael de Sanctis, Bare 
footed Trinitarian, _ - 
B. Bernardino a Fossa, 1503, 
B. Pietro Cresci of Foligno, 
B. Margaret Colonna, 
B. Jeremias Lambertenghi, 

Franciscan, [aness, 

B. Magdalen Albrici, Augustini- 
B. Stephen di Gio. Agazzari, 
B. Margaret of Savoy, 
B. Bernard Tolomei, 1348, 

S. Emidius, Martyr, 

S. Bridget, 1373, 

S. Dinacus, 1463, 

S. Colette, 1447, 

S. Antony of Padna, 1231, 

S. Peter Nolasco, 1258, 

S. Raymond Nonnatus, 1240, 

B. Peter Fourrier, 1636, 

B. Alexander Sauli, 1592, 

B. Albert of Villacontenis, 

B. Bernard of Corleqne, 1667, 

B. Tommaso da Cori, 

B. Paul Bnrali of Arezzo, 1578, B. Cristina, Augustinianess, 

B. Louis Alamanno, B. John of Parma, 

B. Bonaventura of Potcnza 1711 B. Peter of Magliano, [tyr, 

B. Niccolo Fattore, 1683, V. Pierre du Moulin Borie, Mar- 

B. Gasparo de Bono Spagnolo, V. John d Avila, 1569, 

1604, r - - V. Bartholomew de Martyribus, 

B. Niccold di Longobardi, 1709, 1590, 
B. Andrew Ibornon, 1602, V. Catherine de Raconis, 

B. Catherine Tomas, 1571, V. Emily Bicchieri, 

B. Crispin of Viterbo, 1750, V. Sybillina di Payia, ^ 
B. John Massias, 1645, V. Catherine Vanina, 

B. Martin Porres, 1639, V. Paula da Foligno, 1674, 

B. Francesco de Posadas, 1713, V. Anne de St. Bartelemi, 
B.Alphonso Rodriguez, S.J.1617V. Mary Villuni, 1670, 
B. Rezzonica, V. Maria d Escobar, 

B. d Aguilar, V. Mgr. Strambi, Passionist, 

V. Maria Crocifissa, Benedic- V. Ignatius CapizzI, Secular 

tiness, 1699, Priest, 1783, 

V. Holtzhauser, 1 65", [b. 1674, V. Florida Cevoli, Capuchiness, 
V. Rosa Maria of St. Antonio, 1777, 

V. Giovanni Leonarcli, 1609, V. Francis Xayier Maria Bian- 
V. Louis da Ponte, 1624, [ment, chi, Barnabite, 181.5, 
V. Margaret of the Holy Sacra- V. de la Salle, Founder ot the 
V. Condren, of the French Ora- Christian Brothers, 1719, 
tory, 1640, V. Ceesar de Bus, Founder of 

V. Cardinal Ximenes, 1517, the Congregation of Christian 
V. Grignon de Montfort, 1716, Doctrine in France, 
V. Canisius, S. J. V. Andrew Bobola, S. J., 1657, 

V. Antony, Dominican, V. Juvenal Ancina, of the Ro- 

V, Cardinal deBerulle, Founder ; man Oratory, 1604, 
nTof the French Oratory, 1629, /V. Leopoldo a Gaichi, Francis- 
V. Boudon, 1702, can, 1815, 

V. F. Bernard, 1641, V. Theophilus a Curte, Francis- 

V. Cretenet, 1666, can, 1740, 

V. Josepha Maria of St. Agnes, V. Clara Isabella Furnari, Poor 
V. Louis of Granada, 1588, Clare, 

V. Maria Dolado, 1632, V. Andrew a Burgio, Capuchin 

V. Agnes of Jesus, Dominica- Lay-brother, 1772, ^ 

ness, 1634, V. John the Sinner, companion 

V. Angelo ab Acrio, of St. John of God, . 

V. Theresa Redi of the Heart "V. Peter Francis Scarampio, of 

of Jesus, Carmelitess, 1766, the Roman Oratory, 1656, 
V.Maria Crocifissa Satellico, V.Mariano, Arciero, Sec. Priest, 

Poor Clare, 1741, V. Giovanni Tommaso Eusta- 

V. Antonio Margil a Gesu, chio, of the Oratory of Naples, 

Franciscan, 1726, [1720, V. Angela Maria Astorch, Capu- 

V. Angelo de Paulis, Carmelite, chiness, 1665, 
V. Joanna de Lestonac, Found- V. Pompeo di Donato, cf the 

ress of the Daughters of Oratory of Naples, 

Mary, 1640, V. Mary of the Angels, Carmeli- 

V. Charles Caraffa, Founder of tess, 

the pious Labourers, 1633, V. Antonio Grassi, of the Ora- 
V. Maria Francesca a Vulneri- tory, of Lucca, 

bus, 1791, V. Raphael Chylinski, Francis- 

V. Francis of St. Antony, 1716, can, 1741, 
V.John Palafox, 1 659, [can, 1754 V. Francis Antony Fasani,Fran- 
V. Philip of Velitri, Francis- ciscan, 1742, 
V. Antony of the Conception, V. Clara Isabella Gherzi, 1800, 

Secular Canon, [1758, V. Bartholomew de Quental, 

V. Antony Alfonso Bermejo, Founder of the Oratory of 
V. Bernardino Realino,S.J. 1616 Lisbon, 1698, 
V. John Baptist de Rubeis, V. Felix a Nicosia, Capuchin 

Canon of Santa Maria hi Lay-brother, 1787, 

Cosmedin, 1764, V, Febronia Ferdinand a Gesu, 

V. Catherine de Bar, 1694, Poor Clare, 1718, /-*"" 

V. Tomaso Eustachio, of the V. Biagio Morani, 

Naples Oratory, 1641, V. Nicolas Molinarus, Capuchin, 

V. Francis Camacho. of the Or- 1792, 

der of St. John of God, 1698, V. Benedict of Poggibonzi, 
V. John Sarcander, Secular V. Alessandra Sabini di Rocca- 

Priest, 1620, ^ >Uiiu contrada, 

V. Peter Dominic of Civita V. Angelo Fiorucci, 

Vecchia, Franciscan, 1738, V. Bartholomew Tunari, 


V. Anna de Jesus, 1621, F. Saintpe, of the French Ora- 

V. Philip Franci of Florence, tory, [1798, 

V. Lavinia Senardi, Sreur de la Nativite, Fougeres, 

V. Matthew Guerra of Siena, F. Girolamo Gabrielli, Founder 
V. Cecilia Castelli Giovauelli, of the Oratory at Fano, 

Franciscaness, F. Francesco Cabrini, Founder 

V. Serafiua, di Dio, .-.- of the Oratory at Brescia, 

V. Serafina di Gesu of Capri, - *F. Baldassare Nardi, Founder 

V. Lavinia Senardi, of the Oratory at Aquila, 

V. John Andrew de Afflictis, of F. Giovanni Battista Magnanti, 

the Oratory of Aquila, of the Oratory at Aquila, Q> 

V. Felix Angelico Testa di Be- F. Alessandro Borla, 1592, <^ 

vagna, F. Antonio Talpa, 1624, > 

V. Alexander Lusago, F. Trojano Bozzuto, 1625, s^o 

V.Antonio Maria Zaccaria, F. Donato Antonio Martucci"S- 

Barnabite, 1539, F. Antonio Glielmo, [1636, * o 

V. Bartholomew Ferrari, Bar- Don Lelio Sericchi, 1719, <e 

nabite, 1544, Don Gregorio Lopez, 1596, [1720, 

V. Giacomo Antonio Morigia, F. Antonino Cloche, Dominican, 

Barnabite, 1546, Brother Felix, Capuchin,^- 

V. John Peter Besozzi, Barna- BartolomeaCapitanio diLovere, 

bite, 1584, Francesco Picenardi, 

V. Augustin Tornielli, Barna- F. Lanuza, 
bite, 1622, Albina Ligi, 

V. Charles Bascabe, Barnabite, F. Philip Strozzi, 

1615, Paolo Piazzesi, ) Roman Schol 

V. Cosimo, Dossena, Barnabite, Luigi Corradini, j ars, 

1620, [1651, Angela Pozzi, [of Charity, 

V. Baptist Crivelli, Barnabite, Felice Moschini, of the Institute 
V. Bartholomew Canale, Bar- Mechitar, Founder of the Arrne- 

nabite, 1681, nian Benedictines, 1746, 

V. Ignatius Delgado, Bishop of F. Surin, S. J., 1665, " 

Melipotarnus, 1838, ^~* F. John Chrysostom, 
V. Maria Vittoria Angelini, Ser- Sister Maria Felice Spinelli, 

vite, 1 659, Capuchiness of Venice, 

V. Francesca del Serrone, Fran- John Baptist Magnanti, of the 

ciscaness, 1600, Oratory of Aquila, 

Vincent Maria Morelli, 1812, Charles Gianni, of Florence, 
Cardinal Baronius, of the llo- Sebastian Pisani Patrizio of 
man Oratory, 1619, - Alossandra Savina, [Venice, 

Livia Vipereschi, Roman Lady, F. Santi della Ripa, 
Giuseppe, Anchieta, [1675, F. Louis Gaetan Fen eroli, of the 
Count Louis of Sales, 1654, - * Oratory of Bologna, 
F. Caravita, Caesar Louis Canali of Bologna, 

Countess Torella, F. Francis d Anna, of the Ora- 

Canonico Rossi, tory of Naples, 

F. Zucchi, Sister Clare of the Angels, 

F. Nobletz, 1652, Domenico Gambera, 

F. Eudes, Buonsignore Cacciaguerra, 

Duchess of Montmorency, 1666, AgathaBelfiorediS. Paterniano 
F. Bourdoise, 1655, Rosa Maria Martini of Florence, 

F. Brydayne, 1767, Countess Vittoria Valvasone 

Cardinal Cheverus, Beltrame, 

Girolamo Mazzola, S. J. Anna Maria Emanuela Buona- 

M de Lantages, mici, 

F. De Ranee, 1700, F. Joseph Vaz, of the Portu- 

De Rantv. 1649, guese Oratory in Ceylon. 

This list is not put forward as by any means complete, or aa 
intending to exclude other Lives, especially those of the oldei 
Saints. The Editor will be glad to hear from any who may wish 
to satisfy their devotion, and employ their leisure to the greater 
glory of God and our dear Lady, by contributing translations of 
the Lives either of older Saints or of those mentioned in this list, or 
auv others who have died in the odour of sanctity, and are not 
named here. The arduousness of the undertaking makes it very 
necessary for him earnestly to repeat his petition for coadjutors 
in his labours ; and perhaps he may at the present time urge it 
more forcibly than before. Eight volumes of the Series are now- 
published; the work has obtained an extensive circulation both 
in America and England; besides the many testimonies to its 
utility received from very various quarters among Catholics, not 
a few who are still unhappily out of the One Fold have borne 
witness to its attracting influence upon them. ; the increasing de 
mand for books of devotion and ascetical divinity, while it proves 
the growing thirst after Christian perfection amongst us, shows 
how necessary as well as useful a Series of Lives of the Saints at 
length and in detail must be : these are all so many grounds on 
which the Editor may rest his claim for co-operation. Although 
many Lives are advertised as being in hand, yet the translators 
have in most cases so many other important avocations that a 
still larger number of labourers are required to feed the press 
steadily, and to enable the Editor to go on keeping his promise 
to the public. 

Circumstances delayed the publication of Pope Benedict XIV. 
on Heroic Virtue; but the first volume is now published, the 
second is ready for the press, and some progress has been 
made in the translation of the third and concluding volume. It 
is a portion of that pontiff s great book on the Canonization of 
the Saints, and contains a most interesting account of the tests 
used by the Church in examining ecstasies, visions, raptures, 
the higher degrees of mental prayer, and the practice of bodily 
austerities, and supernatural penances. It will be bound and 
lettered uniformly with the- Series of the Modern Saints, and 
will be found replete with most interesting anecdotes, as well 
as being of immense use to spiritual directors, and to all stu 
dents of ascetical theology and Christian philosophy. An 
original dissertation on Mystical Theology will be prefixed to 
one of the future volumes of the Series, in which an attempt 
will be made to distinguish between the heights of Catholic 
contemplation and the vagaries of recent heretics, and the doc 
trine of the most judicious and discreet Mystics will be stated 
and explained from the authors most approved amon^ theolo- 

giahs, and such general information given on the subject as will 
be interesting and edifying to ordinary readers. 

A number of the portraits of the Saints prefixed to most of 
the volumes are to be had separately , on sale at the Publishers, 
for those who may wish to increase their collection of religious 
engravings, or to distribute pictures of the Saints to whom they 
may have a devotion ; and the Essay on Canonization, published 
with the first volume of St. Alphoriso may now be purchased in 
a separate form. The editor will be glad to receive any sugges 
tion which may assist him either in meeting the wishes of sub 
scribers, or in making the Series a more complete and perfect 
Library of Catholic Biography. 


Feast of St. Francis, 1850. 








Servants of ffiotr. 


Gaude Maria Virgo, cunctas hsereses sola interemisti in 
universe mundo." Antiph. Ecclesice. 




FEB 15 1960 


I. Of the marks of vain-glory and boasting, which 
there is often occasion for inquiring into in the 
examination of the virtues of the servants of 

II. Of some other points which frequently give occa 

sion for dispute in the examination of the 
causes of the servants of God. Of some rules 
to be observed in order that a safe judgment 
may be come to respecting their actions ; and 
of some extraordinary actions which are said 
to have been done by the special impulse of 
God. - - 37 

III. Of grace, " gratis data," - ... S8 

IV. Of the graces gratis data, the word of wisdom, 

and the word of knowledge. - 102 

V. Of the graces gratis datee of faith, of healing, and 

of miracles. 123 

VI. Of the grace gratis data of prophecy. - 135 

VII. Containing proofs of the contents of the preced 
ing chapter, and answers to certain objections 

that may be made. 167 

VIII. Of the grace gratis data of prophecy in relation to 

causes of beatification and canonization. 185 

IX. Of the graces gratis data of discerning of spirits. 
Diverse kinds of tongues, and interpretation of 
speeches. ----... 212 
X. Of transport, ecstasy, and rapture. - - 231 
XI. Of visions and apparitions. ... 283 

XII. Of discerning visions and apparitions. - - 320 

XIII. Of visions and apparitions relative to the causes 

of beatification and canonization. - - 345 

XIV. Of revelations. 367 





1. THERE have been servants of God, as we 
have seen, who at the command of their su 
periors, committed their own lives to writing, 
giving therein an account, not only of their 
own praiseworthy actions, but likewise of the 
various gifts and graces bestowed on them by 
God. And there are others, again, who, though 
they have not published such things, have yet 
communicated them by word of mouth to their 
confessors, their companions, or others. In this 
state of things, then, a doubt is raised whether 
they have been guilty of the sin of self-conceit 
or vain-glory. Certainly there are not wanting 
examples of saints who have done this and the 
like. The Apostle Paul, in his second Epistle 
to the Corinthians, gives a full account of his 

1 VOL. III. 


own actions, and of the visions and revelations 
he had from God. Job says of himself (xxix. 
14,) "I was clad with justice: and I clothed 
myself with my judgment as with a robe and 
a diadem. I was an eye to the blind and a foot 
to the lame. I was the father of the poor, and 
the cause that I knew not I searched out most 
diligently." Ezechias having been admonished 
by Isaias of his approaching death, speaks thus 
to God, as we find in the thirty-eighth chapter 
of Isaias; "I beseech Thee, Lord, remember 
now how I have walked before Thee in truth, 
and with a perfect heart, and have done that 
which is good in Thy sight." We read, too, 
in the book of Tobias, (iii. 16,) that Sara, 
the wife of Tobias, spoke thus of herself before 
God : " Thou knowest, Lord, that I never 
coveted a husband, and have kept my soul clean 
from all lust. Never have I joined myself with 
them that play ; neither have I made myself a 
partaker with them that walk in lightness." So 
likewise Nehemias says : " Remember me, my 
God, for good, according to all that I have done 
for this people." (2 Esdras, v. 19.) 

2. Next we have the examples of the saints. 
The Abbot John, as we find from Cassian,* used 
these words : " If, then, I have spoken anything 
savouring of pride or too great freedom, I entreat 
you not to lay it to the account of boasting, but 
to consider it as uttered from a zeal for your 
edification, since when you ask me so earnestly, 

* Collat. ly, c. 3, p. 702. 


I do not think that I should conceal anything 
from you. For I think that it may tend some 
what to your instruction, if, seting aside hu 
mility, I should, for a little time, lay open 
before you with all simplicity,. all the truth re 
specting what I design ; trusting, in the mean 
time, neither to incur the note of vain-glory with 
you, on account of my freedom of speech, nor to 
have to charge my conscience with the crime of 
falsehood, from having suppressed any portion 
of the truth." In Palladius* the Abbot Anuph 
is brought in speaking to his companions as 
follows : " Blessed be God, who has marked out 
these things likewise for me, your manner of life, 
and your coming. From the time I professed 
the name of our Saviour upon earth, no falsehood 
has ever proceeded out of my mouth. I have 
partaken of no earthly food, but an angel from 
heaven has daily sustained me with celestial 
bread. Saying these and such like things, on 
the third day he gave up his spirit, which was 
immediately taken up by angels and the choirs 
of martyrs, and carried up to heaven, while they 
looked on and heard the hymns that were chant 
ed." In the same history, the Abbot Pambo, of 
great holiness, thus speaks when at the point of 
death : " I do not remember ever to have eaten 
the bread of idleness, and I do not repent of any 
thing I said even to this hour." 

The abbot William, in his Life of S. Ber 
nard,! writes of him thus : " Whatever has any 

*Histor. Lausiac. lib, 8. c. 58. 
tLib. 1, 0. 4, n. 23. 


force in his writings, or if there is anything in 
them that has, as it were, a spiritual taste, it has 
chiefly, he confesses it, been received during 
prayer and meditation in the fields and the 
woods ; and he himself used to say to his friends 
in joke, that in this he had no other masters but 
the beech tree and the oak." And the author of 
the continuation of his Life,-"- adds : " He confessed 
that sometimes when he was praying or meditat 
ing, the whole of the Sacred Scripture appeared 
before him open and explained." S. Antony, 
as S. Athanasius relates in his Lifef of him, upon 
being asked by his disciples, did not hesitate to 
communicate to them respecting all the spiritual 
gifts that he had received from God : " His mind, 
which was so pure in Christ, could not conceal 
anything from his spiritual children." S. Ono- 
phrius made known most candidly to Paphnutius, 
at his request, all liis actions, and everything 
about himself; as he relates in his Life of 
him. j Sulpicius Severus, in his Life of S. Mar 
tin^ declares that he wrote it down from what 
the Saint himself had said in answer to his 
questions and those of others. And Baronius 
tells us that part of the Life was written even in 
S. Martin s life-time. Of S. Ignatius, the founder 
of the Society of Jesus, we find it said in the 
lections of the Breviary, that he was so clearly 
enlightened from above that he was accustomed 
to say, " That even if the Sacred writings did not 

* Lib. 3, c. 3, n. 7. t C, 68. 

% C. 2, apud Rosweyd. lib. 1. C. 26. 


exist, yet he was prepared to die for the faith on 
account of those things alone which God had 
revealed to him at Manresa." 

Also in the sixth lection of the second nocturn 
on the octave of S. Dominic, in the Dominican 
Breviary, we have this fact recorded, which is 
mentioned also, after others, by Malvenda, in his 
Annals of the Order.* The words are these : 
" Then, having sent for twelve of the elder and 
more eminent fathers, he made a general con 
fession of all his sins to the Prior of the convent 
at Bologna ; and when that sacred duty had been 
performed, he said to those around him, Lo, 
my most dear brethren, by the singular grace 
of God I am a pure virgin at this day : if you, 
too, will cultivate purity, you will wonderfully 
advance in sanctity of life and the sweet odour 
of noble reputation. " 

In the Report of the Auditors of the Rota, in 
the cause of S. Philip Neri, it is said : " Philip 
preserved to the end his virginal chastity, as he 
himself made known to Francesco Bucca, his son 
in Christ, in order that he might move him to the 
same virtue." Lastly, in the Life of S. Teresa,! it 
is set forth at length what S. Peter of Alcantara 
said to her, of himself, for he narrated to her the 
penances which he continually performed. S. 
Teresa herself bears witness that the servant of 
God, Catherine of Cordova, who is very highly 
commended by Philip of the most Holy Trinity,]: 
and Gaspar of S. Michael,^ as a person of very 

*. Centur. 1, part. 3, p. ,168. t C. 27, p. 97. 

t Part. 3, Mystic, tr. 2, art. 2. $ Tom. 1, lib. 4, c 14. 


holy life, and endowed with many Christian vir 
tues, did not hesitate to relate the graces that 
had been bestowed on her by God ; " I will say 
what some heard from her, and the nuns of S. 
Joseph in Toledo, when she visited them, and as 
she spoke with simplicity to many sisters, she 
did so, too, also to others, for she was a person of 
great simplicity, candour, and sincerity." And, 
lastly, S. Catharine Adurna Flisca, commonly 
called a Janua, disclosed to a religious, who asked 
her all the wonderful things that God had wrought 
in her, as Matthias Tanner, the Carthusian, bears 
witness in his Life of her. 

3. If any one should suppose from these and 
such like examples that every one may, without the 
fault of boasting and vain-glory, set forth his own 
praiseworthy actions, he would deceive himself. 
The wise man directs us : " Let another praise 
thee, and not thine own mouth, a stranger, and 
not thy own lips." (Prov. xxvii, 2.) The Author of 
the Moral Apology, who goes under the name of 
S. Cyril, published by Balthasar Corder,* after 
some other remarks, says : " But why praise your 
self ? If you are known, doubtless you do what 
is superfluous. If you are not known, remember 
that true virtue loves to be concealed. Nor is 
it the proper time for praising any one now 
so long as he is alive ; for true praise and com 
mendation does not pass away, and it requires a 
never-ending virtue to secure this. Let ,then, the 
mouth of another praise thee, and thy own mouth 

* Lib. 2, c, 28. 


accuse thee. Let the virtue of humility approve 
thee ; and let the last and eternal day show thy 

S. Paul the Apostle, likewise, in his Epistle 
to the Corinthians above quoted, before he begins 
to speak of his own praises, uses these words : 
" Would to God you could bear with some little 
of my folly ;" on which Estius in his commen 
tary remarks : " He speaks in this way, not be 
cause it was really folly to boast in the manner 
he intended to do, so that he would have to be 
borne with as doing a foolish thing ; but because 
boasting and praising oneself is commonly looked 
upon as the act of a foolish and vain person, and 
so indeed it is unless some just necessity excuses 
it. Hence the wise man directs that Another 
should praise thee, and not thy own mouth. But 
although some just cause should compel a man to 
praise himself, as in this instance it did the Apos 
tle, yet it does not follow that he should be ac 
counted foolish by those who are either ignorant 
of the cause of what he did, or do not pay attention 
to it. And it is for this reason that the Apostle 
speaks of himself in the following passage some 
times as a fool, and sometimes as if a fool." 
Every one, therefore, sees that it is necessary to 
be acquainted with some rules, in order to pass a 
correct judgment, so often as examination is made 
into the causes of such servants of God as have 
committed to writing, or related to others, their 
own great and noble actions ; a judgment, I mean, 
as to this point, whether their doing so is to be 
ascribed to virtue or to vice, the vice, namely, o 


vain glory, which is reproved by the Apostle in 
his Epistle to the Galatians (v. 26. ) : " Let us 
not become desirous of vain-glory." And again 
to the Philippians : " Let nothing be done through 
strife or by vain- glory." To which agrees that 
passage in S. John s gospel : " If I glorify myself, 
my glory is nothing." 

4. The same view of the matter was taken 
before Estius by S. John Chrysostom, in what he 
wrote on the hundred and thirtieth Psalm. For 
as David had said (1 Kings xvii. 36.) : " I thy ser 
vant have killed both a lion and a bear ;" and ex 
tolled many other great things that he had done, and 
yet in this Psalm declares : " Lord, my heart is not 
exalted, nor are my eyes lofty," Chrysostom, after 
having spoken against praise of oneself, goes on as 
follows : " How was it, then, that the prophet was 
ignorant of this rule, and boasted of himself not 
before two or three, or ten, but in the face of the 
whole world ? For he boasts while saying I am 
humble and subdued, humble to an extraordinary 
degree, and simple-hearted ; for this indeed is the 
meaning of the expression weaned towards his 
mother. How is it, then, that he does this ? It 
is because it is not altogether a prohibited thing, 
nay, it is sometimes necessary ; so that occasion 
ally it falls out that we are foolish, not if we 
boast, but if we do not boast " 

5, The learned Estius, in his commentary on 
the chapter referred to, remarks, that God neither 
commands nor counsels a man to praise himself, 
but forbids it under certain circumstances as 
He does swearing. It is, then, above all things 


necessary to be considered what that is respecting 
which the servant of God seems to have boasted, 
according to the doctrine laid down by S. Thomas.* 
For if he glories in something that is frail and 
perishable, it is not to be doubted of that he is 
guilty of the, sin of vain-glory. " Glory is said 
to be vain...... with reference to the subject-mat 
ter from which a man seeks it, for instance, if 
it be sought from that which is worthless, as from 
some frail and perishable object." In the same 
question the holy doctor shows that vain-glory 
is a mortal sin by reason of the subject-matter of 
which one glories, as if, for example, any one 
should boast of something which is opposed to 
Divine Reverence. 

If, however, the subject is not anything frail 
and perishable, but is in itself worthy of glory, 
then enquiry is to be made into the intention 
of him who has thus spoken or written respect 
ing himself. "For as," says S. Gregory,! "it 
is a grave fault for a man to arrogate to himself 
that which he is not ; so on the other hand it is 
no fault generally if he should in humility speak 
of that good which he has. And so indeed it often 
happens that both the just and the wicked speak 
in a similar way, while, however, their heart is 
always far separated." He then instances the 
case of the proud Pharisee, who said, " I fast twice 
in the week," and of king Ezechias praying after 
the manner cited above, " I beseech thee, Lord, 
remember how I have walked before thee in truth 

* 2. 2dao. qu. 132, art. 1. t Moral. 12, c. 31, col. 405. 


and with a perfect heart," and concludes as fol 
lows : "Behold the Pharisee justified himself in 
his deeds, and Ezechias declared himself to be just 
even in thought, and yet the former offended God, 
while the latter by the same method appeased Him. 
Why is this but that the Omnipotent God weighs 
the words of each by their thoughts, nor in His 
ears do those words sound proud which are uttered 
from a humble heart." As, however, the intention 
of man does not lie open before man, but only before 
God, some considerations must be laid down, by 
the assistance of which the intention of the speaker 
or the writer may be made manifest, as far as it 
is allowable for man to judge of it. If, therefore, 
some urgent necessity for relating or writing down 
our own great actions, and the graces conferred 
on us by God be not wanting, we may believe that 

the intention of the writer or narrator was a good 

Isidore of Pelusium* in giving a reason how it 
was that the Pharisee offended God by the arro 
gance of his words, while Job, who spoke more 
and higher things of himself, obtained praise, con 
cludes as follows : " As it seems to be a foolish 
thing, and to have a chilling effect to herald forth 
one s own praises, so, in fact, it really is unless 
when necessity urges it. If, however, any one 
should hear what it is not fitting he should, and 
so should fall involuntarily into speaking in this 
way, the fault ought likewise to be laid to the 
doors of those who have brought him into this 

* Lib. 3, Ep. 278. 


necessity. Accordingly the judgment of God 
repudiated him who, without being roused by any 
insults or reproaches, pronounced himself just, and 
condemned all others, so that he did not even 
respect the Publican who was present. While 
he, on the other hand, who was driven to this by 
necessity for what did his friends overlook that 
might tend to rouse and stimulate his mind? 
was loaded with the greatest praises." 

Plutarch wrote a little treatise on the ques 
tion "How a man may without mischief com 
mend himself." In this he carefully enumer 
ates the various causes for which a man may, 
without imputation, make known his own good 
qualities to others. If, for example, he has to 
drive away calumny. " A man," he says, " may 
without fault or blame praise himself, first, if he 
does so for the sake of repelling a calumny or 
false accusation." And again, if it is done for 
the benefit of others. " Since," he continues, " we 
should take up our own praises, not only without 
occasioning pain or ill-will in others, but likewise 
for their benefit, in order that we may not seem to 
aim at our own praise, but to have in this some 
further end in view, consider first, whether any 
one can praise himself for the sake of exciting a 
zeal and emulation after virtue in those who hear 
him." With this, too, agrees Dante in Convivio, 
" Returning, then, to our principal object, I say, as 
I have partly hinted above, that it is allowable to 
speak of oneself for necessary reasons, and beside 
some other necessary causes, there are two that 
are more manifest. One is when, without talking 


of oneself, some great infamy or danger cannot 
be prevented. And then it is permitted by the 
argument that out of two paths to choose that 
which is least bad, is in some sort to choose a good. 
It was this necessity which moved Boethius to 
speak of himself, in order that under the pretext 
of giving consolation, he might clear his exile from 
perpetual infamy by showing that it was unjust, 
since no other defender had taken up his cause. 
The other cause is when, by speaking of oneself, 
some great benefit will acrue to another in the 
way of instruction, And this reason moved S. 
Augustine to speak of himself in his confessions." 
This is treated at length, and with great learning, 
by Mazzoni, in his Apology for Dante,* and by 

6. But to return to what is sacred. In the 
first Book of Kings ch. xii., Samuel, in order to 
drive away a calumny, laid before the whole 
of Israel the innocence of his life. " Behold, I 
have hearkened to your voice in all that you 
said to me." And then afterwards, "having 
then conversed with you from my youth until 
this day, behold here I am. Speak of me 
before the Lord and before His anointed, whether 
I have taken any man s ox or ass ; if I have 
wronged any man, if I have oppressed any man, 
if I have taken a bribe at any man s hand ; and 
I will despise it this day and restore it to you." 
And so in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts, Paul 
and Barnabas declared publicly, for the good of 

* Tom. 2, lib. 4, cc. 4-j, 4ft, f Viridar. lib. 3, problem. 9. 


those who were listening, the conversion of the 
Gentiles and the miracles which God had 
wrought by their hands : " And when they were 
come to Jerusalem they were received by the 
church and the apostles, and ancients, declaring 
how great things God had done with them ;" 
and afterwards, verse 12, "And all the multi 
tude held their peace, and gave ear to Barnabas 
and Paul relating what great signs and wonders 
God had wrought amon^ the Gentiles by them." 
And S. Gregory* explaining those words of our 
Lord s, (Matth. ix.) "See that no one know it ;" 
and speaking of the manifestation of one s own 
good works, and of grace received from God, 
concludes thus : " Let them, therefore, be care 
fully concealed, and only published through 
necessity. Let the object of their concealment 
be our own protection, and of their being pub 
lished abroad the good of others." 

Among theologians, those who have written on 
this question, have admitted as just and praise 
worthy causes of self-commendation, not only 
the escaping from infamy and recovery of cha 
racter, but likewise the spiritual good of others. 
Lastly, not to speak of many others, as Marcantif 
and Theophilus Raynaud,| S. Gregory so often 
quoted from, says, " Holy men, as often as they 
speak of themselves to those who follow them, 
imitate the example of their Creator. For God, 

* Moral, lib. 19, c. 23, n. 36. 

t Tribun. Sacram. Tom. 2, tract. 2, tit. 4, sect. 1, p, 337. 
ft Tom. 4, lib. 6, sect. 2, c. 18, p. 259. 


who forbids us to be praised by our own mouth , 

cannot be raised by praises; but while He 

declares to us His own greatness, lifts up our 
ignorance to Him, and teaches us by telling us 
of His own goodness and greatness, which man 
would never be acquainted with were He to keep 
silence... Imitating, then, this example of God, 
holy men occasionally manifest things respecting 
themselves, not in order to extol themselves, but 
to instruct their hearers. And yet they keep 
guard in the meantime over themselves by a 
higher and more important consideration, lest 
while they raise others from earthly thoughts, 
they themselves should be swallowed up with 
the desire of human praise." 

7. Moreover, the words of those who speak of 
themselves are carefully to be weighed whether 
they savour of modesty and soberness ; and 
whether it may be gathered from the context, 
that the speaker was backward to speak of him 
self and his own affairs, and lastly, whether he 
referred all things to the final cause, that is, the 
glory of God. S. Paul, when he is beginning 
to praise himself in the paragraph above quoted, 
falls back, not once or twice, but three times, 
and excuses himself. First, he says, "I would 
that ye would bear with me ;" then he calls 
himself foolish, as we have seen ; thirdly, he 
says, " But do bear with me ;" and, " I am 
jealous of you ;" and once more in the 12th 
chapter, he says, "but I forbear, lest any man 
should think rf me above that which he seeth, 
or anything he heareth from me." Accordingly, 


S. John Chrysostom, when about to praise the 
apostle, shows how backward he is to descend 
to his own praise, and compares him to a horse, 
who is compelled unwillingly, and in fear, to leap 
over a steep precipice : " As a horse on the 
brink of a steep and rugged bank draws itself 
in, as if to clear it with one bound ; but seeing 
the deep abyss before it, is seized with fear and 
shrinks, then feeling its rider urge it vehemently, 
makes another attempt, and the same thing hap 
pens once more, showing both urgency and force, 
it stands for a moment panting over the pit, then 
resuming courage throws itself confidently for 
ward : so the blessed Paul, as one hurrying over a 
precipice, the mention of his own praise, again 
and again, and the third time shrinks from his 

And S. Gregory,- - likewise, has the following 
passage respecting S. Paul : " That great preacher 
of the truth, when speaking against false apostles, 
after giving an account of the illustrious virtue of 
his own actions for the instruction of his disciples, 
after describing so many dangers which he had 
gone through in continual persecution, and rela 
ting how after this he was taken up to the third 
heaven, and then again to Paradise, where he 
was enabled to know such things, as he could 
not at all speak of; he was perchance about to 
declare still more wonderful things of himself, 
but restraining himself from human praise by 
a higher consideration, he adds, *I forbear, lest 

* Moral. loc. cit. n. 13. 


any one should think above that which he sees 
in me or hears of me. He had then something 
further to say of himself, which he spared to 
say ; but both things were done purposely by 
this great teacher ; that by speaking of what 
he had done, he might instruct his disciples, 
and by his silence might keep within the 
bounds of humility. For it would have been 
unkind to his disciples if he had kept abso 
lute silence respecting himself, and it might 
on the other hand have been too unguarded to 
have disclosed everything even to them. But 
he acted with admirable skill, as we have already 
said, in both ways, so that by his speaking he 
helped forward the life of others, and by keeping 
silence guarded his own." Estius, in explaining 
these words of S. Paul last quoted, paraphrases 
them as follows : " I abstain for your sake from 
relating such great and glorious revelations, lest 
any one should on their account attribute too 
much to me, and should think me greater than 
those deeds which he sees in me, and that dis 
course which he hears from me declare me to 
be. For, as the Greeks observe, if the inhabi 
tants of Lystra desired to slay victims to him 
as to God, on account of the lame man who was 
healed ; and if the natives of Melita called him 
a god because he had shaken the viper off from 
his hand unhurt, what honour would men not 
have paid to him, if, besides this, he had mani 
fested to them those wonderful revelations ?" 

Lastly, that the final cause, that is to say, the 
glory of God, was had in view is plainly proved 


from the eleventh chapter of the 2nd Epistle to 
the Corinthians, where the same Apostle says : 
" If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things 
that concern my infirmities." The sense of these 
words, according to the often-quoted Estius, is, 
that he was unwilling to glory in the signs and 
miracles which he had wrought in such great num 
bers, and which are wont to render a man re 
nowned and glorious in the world, but rather in 
his infirmities which he had suffered, inasmuch as 
it is on account of these things that a person is 
wont to be looked upon as contemptible in the 
eyes of those who disregard piety. And, indeed, 
it was in this chiefly that the great virtue of 
Christ shone forth. S. Gregory* says : " Some 
times holy men are compelled to do good deeds 
or to relate these good deeds before men ; but 
they do it referring all to that final cause, so 
that not they themselves, but their Father who 
is in heaven, may be glorified by them. And 
S. Thomas,! after saying that vain-glory is in 
one way so called by reason of the subject- 
matter from which any one seeks glory, if, for 
example, it is something frail and perishable (as 
we have explained above), subjoins, that it may 
also be called vain from other causes : " In ano 
ther way, he says, (it may be so) by reason of the 
person from whom any one seeks for glory, as 
from man, for example, whose judgment is uncer 
tain. And, thirdly, it may be so on the part of 
him who seeks for glory ; should he, that is, not 

* Moral, lib. 19, c. -3, n. 36. t 2. 2. qu l:i2. 

VOL. in. 


refer the desire of his glory to a due end, namely, 
the honour of God or the salvation of his neigh 

Much that has been said above has been faith 
fully set forth in a few words by Father Peter 
Ribadeneira in his Life of S. Ignatius,* where, after 
relating many things that he had heard from him, 
he adds : " He seldom, and not without grave 
cause, spoke of what concerned himself, and then 
it was always to cure some afflicted soul, and to 
console it with his counsel, or else in order to 
animate his companions by his example, or to 
brace and encourage them against the difficulties 
which stood in their way." To confirm this by 
an opposite illustration, we give in the Appendix 
a letter of the blessed John Tossignano, of the 
order of Jesuati, bishop of Ferrara, the original 
of which is preserved in the archives of the 
discalced Carmelite Fathers of that city. In 
that letter, because he had been falsely accused 
to the Duke of Este, he recounts with humility 
his own good deeds, but referring them all to 
God as their author. Amongst the works of 
S. Basil there is his twentieth homily on hu 
mility, in which the holy doctor considers those 
words of Jeremias, (ch. ix.) " Let not the wise 
man glory in his wisdom, and let not the strong 
man glory in his strength, and let not the rich 
man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth 
glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth 
Me, for I am the Lord." And he says : " This 

* Lib. it, c. 3, p. 476. 


is the sublimest end of man, this is his glory and 
majesty, to know with truth what is great, and ad 
here to it, and to seek glory of the Lord of glory." 
He considers likewise that passage of the Apostle 
(1 Corinth, i.) " Christ is made to us wisdom from 
God, and justice, and sanctification, and redemp 
tion, that, as it is written, he that glorieth may 
glory in our Lord." And afterwards he adds, 
* This is the perfect and true glorying in God, 
when a man is not extolled on account of his own 
justice, but knows himself to be destitute of all 
true justice, and to be justified only by faith in 
Christ." S. Basil is wholly taken up in this 
homily with showing this. 

All this tends to confirm what has just been 
said respecting referring all the good that a 
man does to the true end, that is to say, the 
honour of God and the salvation of our neigh 
bour. And as for the saints saying that man 
is justified by faith in Christ alone, lest this 
should lead the simple into error, let them note 
the words of Father Julian Gamier on the pas 
sage : " It is to be observed (he says) that Basil 
only proposes to show us in this passage that we 
cannot glory in our own works. Accordingly," 
he says, " although you should fast, although you 
should give alms, and do other things of the same 
sort very rightly, yet faith must needs be added 
to all, not because faith justifies of itself without 
works, but because it is necessarily required for 

8. So far our deductions are confirmed by the 
examples cited above ; in which neither fitting 


occasion nor due cause was wanting, and which 
were eminently accompanied by the good of the 
hearers and by the modesty of the speaker. This, 
then, ought to be enough. But as nothing ought 
to be overlooked or omitted in causes of can 
onization which may tend to draw forth the 
truth, it will be necessary, beside what has al 
ready been said, to institute a careful inquiry 
whether the servant of God who has spoken of 
his own great actions, has given evidence in other 
ways of no small share of humility, and has ex 
celled in other virtues. For if his humility and 
other virtues are well established by other proofs, 
those things which he has spoken of himself may 
easily be thought free from any stain of pride or 
vain-glory, provided, that is to say, that the other 
circumstances which we have spoken of above 
do not fail. This is well explained by Nicolas 
Lancizi,* who says : " For myself I am fully per 
suaded that it happens by peculiar design of God 
and the impulse of His grace, that those who are 
well grounded in humility and a love of contempt, 
who are imbued with a clear insight into their 
own vileness, and who are therefore further re 
moved from vain-glory and a spirit of boasting, 
are moved by the grace of God within them to 
make manifest the hidden and singular gifts be 
stowed on them. The Divine Wisdom, which is 
so full of love for souls, seems to draw from thence 
a great increase both to the Divine glory and the 
help of men. And so it happens that when the 

* Opusc. 8, c, 10, p. 269. 


servants of God are thinking of nothing less than 
of such things, oftentimes they speak of those 
things which from a desire of keeping themselves 
down they have rightly been accustomed to con 
ceal, and have wished to be known to none. But 
He in Whose hands are our hearts, would have 
them laid open by His servants, from ends that 
are known to Him, and in some degree likewise 
to us. And such things they are that have been 
made manifest by almost all the most eminent 
Saints, as we find by reading their great deeds 
which have been handed down for the benefit 
of the Church." 

Father Bartoli, likewise, in his Life of Cardi 
nal Bellarmine,* speaks very well to our purpose : 
" Accordingly, as I have set forth a little before, 
it is part of the providence of God to so order 
it for the edification of His Church, for the glory 
of His name, and in order to make known the 
merits of His saints, that certain rare effects of 
His grace in them should be declared which would 
otherwise be buried with them. Nor does it seem 
fitting to Him always to work miracles for that 
purpose, the way most similar to nature being 
to move them internally to speak of them them 
selves. Thus, beside a great many others whom 
we should not have known, the holy Patriarch 
Dominic, and nearer our own times S. Philip 
Neri, revealed their own virginity, the one to 
his religious, the other to his spiritual children. 
And where the Holy Spirit of God leads the saints 

* Lib. 3, c. 10. 


to make known even the greatest things of them 
selves, it is not possible that the spirit of vanity 
should enter or be mingled with what they do. 
And this is equally the case whether they speak 
to an entire people or to one or two persons. Of 
these, then, and as many other persons of well- 
known sanctity, as have, like them, revealed that 
they were virgins, it would be the greatest teme 
rity to think otherwise than that a special instinct 
of the Holy Spirit had moved them to do so, since 
the presumption is in their favour." 

Rodriguez, too, in his JExercise of Perfection, 
confirms the same thing in the following passage : 
" Our reputation ought to be considered by us, 
and we ought to take pleasure in it, just so far 
as it is necessary for the edification of our neigh 
bour, to produce fruit in him, and for the greater 
honour and glory of God our Saviour. You 
ought, then, to consider in this whether you are 
rejoiced at your authority or reputation for the 
sake of the good of souls and of the glory of God, 
or purely and entirely on account of yourself and 
for your own honour and authority. If, when an 
occasion of humility or contempt of yourself offers 
itself, you are truly and heartily inflamed and 
rejoiced at it, it is a good sign. But if, when 
an occasion of humility and of being little es 
teemed offers, you refuse it, and do not support 
it well ; aikl if, when it is not necessary for the 
good of your neighbour, you are rejoiced in every 
way at a good reputation and at the praises of 
men, and aim at procuring them, this is a sign 
that in the other things likewise you are rejoiced 


at that which affected yourself, at your own hon 
our and reputation, and not purely for the love 
of God and the love of your neighbour. To praise 
oneself may moreover be a good thing if it is done 
as it ought to be. Just as we see that S, Paul, 
in writing to those of Corinth, begins by praising 
himself and recounting his own greatness, relating 
the abundant graces which our Lord had vouch 
safed him, and saying that he had laboured and 
wearied himself more than the other apostles. He 
begins likewise to speak of the revelation which 
he had, and of his having been rapt up to the 
third heaven. But he did all this because it was 
fitting at the time, and it was necessary for the 
honour of God and the good of his neighbour, for 
the good, that is, of those to whom he wrote in 
order that they might count him as an apostle 
of Christ, that they might receive his doctrine, 
and reap fruit from it. Moreover, he says these 
things not only with a heart that disclaims all 
honour and. distinction, but even with a love of 
dishonour and contempt for Jesus Christ s sake. 
This is manifest, for when it was not necessary 
for the good of his neighbour, he knew well how 
to lower and abase himself, saying that he was 
not worthy to be called an apostle because he 
had persecuted the Church of God, and speaking 
of himself as a blasphemer and the greatest of 
sinners. Whenever occasion offered for being 
dishonoured or slighted, this plainly was his plea 
sure, and what he took delight in." 

9. What has been said of those who speak thus 
of themselves, holds good likewise respecting those 


who write. But with regard to these latter it must 
further be considered whether they have written 
by the command or counsel of their Superiors. 
For he who without such command or counsel has 
committed to writing what is great or extraordi 
nary of himself, either in the virtues which he has 
exercised, or the gifts he has received from above, 
will scarcely be able perhaps to escape the impu 
tation of vain-glory, or at least of imprudence. It 
was with respect to this point, viz , the command or 
counsel of superiors, that enquiry was made into 
the causes of the servants of God Alfonso Rodri 
guez, Cardinal Bellarmine, and Orosco, inasmuch 
as they had written an account of their own ac 

10. Here we have to speak of some servants of 
God who have declared in their lifetime that they 
should be solemnly enrolled among the saints 
after their death. We read of S. Francis of 
Paula, that when Lorenzo de Medici brought his 
son John to the saint, and commanded him to 
kiss his hand, S. Francis said to him : " I shall 
be a saint when you will be Supreme Pontiff;" 
as we read in the Chronicles of the Minims, and 
in the Life of the Saint written by Brother Isidore 
Toscano."" S. Vincent Ferrer said one day to 
Alfonso Borgia, who came to see him, that he 
would go on with that chaste and modest course 
of life which he had begun, and obtain from 
this above all things the highest dignity among 
men, and would confer the greatest honour after 

* Lib. 3, c. 4, p. 339. 


death upon himself. And another time when he 
was preaching, and saw among those who were 
standing by S. Bernardine of Sienna, who was 
as yet quite a youth, and unknown, he said that 
there was among his hearers one of the order of 
Friars Minor, who would turn out an extraordi 
nary person by his learning as well as his life, 
and who, although a young man, would be pre 
ferred to himself, though older, in the estimation 
of the Church ; as we read in his Life in the 
Bollandists,* and in Gabriel Fiamma.t 

Jacob Ricci, in his Life of S. Philip Neri, re 
lates that the saint often spoke of his own future 
canonization. And S. Andrew Avellino, when 
he was approaching the house of Aloysius Carafa, 
prince of Stilian, in the city of Naples, and some 
musicians were in readiness to receive him with 
a flourish of trumpets, refused the honour, saying 
that he waited for such honours as these till 
after his death. At another time when he was 
in the cathedral church of the same city on occa 
sion of the Feast of S. Thomas Aquinas, its 
Patron and Protector, whose statue was in one 
of the niches of the church, seeing a niche which 
was in sight without a statue, he foretold that his 
own statue would be placed there after his death, 
because he would be reckoned among the pro 
tectors of the city ; as is related in his Life by 
John Baptist Castaldi, and by Francis di Lom- 
bardi, in his notes on the sixty-ninth letter of 
S. Francis de Paula. When, however, John de 

* Act. SS. Apr. 5. t Lib. 4, c. 10. 


Medici, raised to the Pontifical throne under the 
name of Leo X., had solemnly enrolled Francis 
of Paula among the saints, and Alfonso Borgia, 
mentioned above, had, under the title of Calix- 
tus III., canonized Vincent Ferrer the third 
month of his Pontificate the canonization having 
taken place six years after that of S. Bernardino 
of Sienna, though Vincent had died thirty years 
before him and lastly when S. Andrew Avellino 
had been raised to be one of the Protectors of 
the city of Naples, every one easily understood 
the finger of God in these predictions, and that 
what had been said was not to be attributed to 
the vice of boasting but to the spirit of prophecy. 

11. Sometimes it has happened that some great 
and noble actions have been wrought by the ser 
vants of God openly and before the people, and 
hence a difficulty has immediately been raised 
out of that passage of S. Matthew, vi. 3. " But 
when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know 
what thy right doeth : that thy alms may be in 
secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will 
repay thee." And, v. 6: "But thou, when thou 
shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having 
shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret ; and 
thy Father who seeth in secret will reward thee." 
For the vice of boasting and vain-glory is opposed 
to all this, not to say, hypocrisy, which the prophet 
Jeremias denounces, ch. ix., and ch. xi., and Christ 
our Lord condemns : " Woe to you Scribes and 
Pharisees, hypocrites." 

12. But in order to use a fair balance in form 
ing our judgment, it is worth while remarking on 


the other hand that Christ our Lord also says : 
(Matth. v. 14.) "You are the light of the world. 
A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. 
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a 
bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine 
to all that are in the house. So let your light 
shine before men, that they may see your good 
works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." 
Here the Apostles and all their followers are 
admonished to strive to shine forth before others 
both by word and example. In order, then, to 
reconcile this passage in the fifth chapter, with 
that out of the sixth already quoted, we must say 
that good works ought to be done before men that 
they may glorify God by them, but not, on the 
other hand, in order that the doers of them may be 
glorified, and so may grasp at the empty praise of 
men. Accordingly we are thus directed in the 
sixth chap.: "Take heed that you do not your 
justice before men, that you may be seen by them 
otherwise you shall not have a reward from your 
Father who is in heaven. Therefore when thou 
doest an alms-deed, sound not a trumpet before 
thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and 
in the streets, that they may be honoured by 
men." This is rightly explained by S. Gregory :* 
" What is it then," he says, " which is our work, and 
is to be done in such a way as not to be seen, while 
it is nevertheless commanded us, because it ought 
to be seen ? What is it but that those things which 
we do are to be concealed, in order that we may 

* Pastoral, part. 3, c. 33. 


not be praised for them, and yet are to be shewn 
forth in order that we may increase the praise of 
our heavenly Father. Thus, when our Lord for 
bade us to make our justice to appear before men, 
He immediately added, in order to be seen by 
them, And when, on the other hand, He com 
manded our good works to be seen by men, he 
adds directly afterwards, * that they may glorify 
your Father who is in heaven. In what way, then, 
they were to be seen, and in what way they ought 
not to be seen, has been shown by the end of the 
sentence ; since the mind of the doer should not 
seek that his actions should be seen on account of 
himself, and yet for the sake of his heavenly Fa 
ther s glory he should not conceal them." This is 
confirmed by S. Antoninus in his Summa :* " God 
does not forbid simply that good works should 
be done openly before men, but that they should 
be done with the intention of being praised, that 
is, from vain-glory." 

13. Suppose, then, that it shall be found from 
the acts of the cause that some or many great 
and noble deeds have been done openly before 
men by a servant of God, it is not right that a 
judgment should forthwith be passed, nor even a 
reasonable suspicion be entertained that he has 
been guilty of ostentation or vain-glory. But as 
far as it is lawful for man to do so, the intention 
of the doer ought to be inquired into, and if this 
shall seem to have been directed to praise of self, 
no doubt ought to be entertained of the existence 

* Part. 2, tit. 4, c. 1, 4. 


of this vice. But if, on the contrary, the inten 
tion was directed to promote the greater glory of 
God, then it should be considered certain that the 
action was accepted by God. But as the heart 
of man, while it is open to God is hidden from 
men, the intention cannot be discovered with 
respect to the matter before us, except by a refer 
ence to tho remaining course of the life of him 
who has thus openly exhibited his good deeds 
before others, so that if his sanctity is sufficiently 
established from the rest of his life, it ought fairly 
to be presumed that he sought nothing else in 
acting thus but the glory of God. This presump 
tion cannot, however, be entertained unless signs 
of true sanctity appear in the rest of his life. 
The whole matter is well set forth by S. Gregory 
in the eighth book of his morals. * " We must 
conceal," he says, "what we do, lest, if we carry 
our treasures carelessly in our journey through 
this world, we should be attacked by evil spirits, 
who will despoil us of them. And yet it is the 
truth who says, Let them see your good works, 
and glorify your Father who is in heaven. It is 
one thing, however, when the glory of the Giver 
is aimed at in the manifestation of a good work, 
and another when the private praise of an indi 
vidual is sought for from the gift. Hence in the 
same gospel the same truth says, * Take heed that 
ye do not your justice before men to be seen by 
them. When, therefore, our actions are done in 
the sight of men, we should first weigh well in 

* C. 48, n. 83. 


our hearts what it is that we are aiming at in 
so doing. If it is the glory of Him from whom 
they really proceed, there, however, widely pub 
lished and spread abroad, in His sight we are 
keeping them secret. If, however, we desire our 
own praise in them, they are already considered 
by Him as noised abroad, although many should 
be ignorant of them. Those, indeed, who are very 
perfect are able, when their works are manifested, 
so entirely to seek the glory of the Author of 
them, as to be quite out of the way of feeling any 
exultation at the private praise which they them 
selves gain therefrom. But it is only when our 
praiseworthy actions are shown forth to men with 
out our receiving any harm from it, that the 
praise that is bestowed on us is really trodden 
under foot and despised. And as those who are 
weak cannot thus perfectly despise praise and 
mount above it ; there is but one course left to 
them, to conceal the good that they do. For it 
often happens that from the very outset they are 
aiming at their own glory, and often again when 
they desire to set forth the glory of the Giver in 
the open manifestation of the gift, they are car 
ried away by the favours that are heaped upon 
them to a desire of their own praise ; and as they 
neglect to examine themselves interiorly, while 
exteriorly they are distracted and know not what 
they are doing, their good works fight for their 
vanity, while they fancy that they are performing 
these as a service of homage to their Author." 

S. Antoninus likewise speaks much to the same 
purpose. " As," he says, " those who are imperfect 


are willing enough to obtain the praise of men, 
the good, as S. Gregory teaches us in his morals, 
if they then do anything more high and excellent 
than that which is ordinarily necessary for salva 
tion, they ought to do it secretly, in order to avoid 
the danger of vain-glory. So the Blessed Nicholas, 
when he would provide for the wants of his neigh 
bour, secretly threw a considerable sum of money 
into his house by the window on three separate 
occasions, in order that he might be able to give in 
marriage three grown-up daughters, whom other 
wise he intended to prostitute, because he was 
poor, and had no other means of support. But 
those who are perfect and who are set as an, 
example to others, ought to do this great and 
extraordinary action even in public, in order that 
the people may be edified thereby, and may be 
excited to do the same. Thus the Blessed Father 
Dominic, when he was once lodged in the house 
of some matrons that attached themselves to a 
body of heretics, who, under the sheepskin of aus 
terity, were in reality devouring their souls like 
wolves, slept for a whole Lent on the board, wore 
a hair shirt openly, and fasted on bread and 
water, in order that by the example of his true 
and unfeigned penance he might bring them back 
from their error, which accordingly came to 

14. There is another discussion of the same 
character as those referred to which has often 
been raised in the examination of the virtues of 
the servants of God. There are instances where 
their own names or the genealogies of their fami- 


lies have been placed in churches, chapels, hospi 
tals, public edifices, built by their authority or at 
their expense, and even on things dedicated to sa 
cred uses ; and the question is whether these were 
indications of self-conceit and vain-glory. If such 
things were done without the knowledge of the 
servants of C4od, and it is no new thing for it 
to fall out so, there is no longer any ground 
for a doubt respecting a motive of vain-glory. 
Charles a Bascape, Bishop of Novara, in his Life 
of Charles Borromeo, relates of him, " that upon 
his observing the arms of his family carved on 
the porch of the canons houses, he ordered them 
to be erased, and forbade them ever to be put 
up again ; notwithstanding which, as nobody 
took the thing in charge, and S. Charles did not 
observe them again, they continued to remain 
at the very front of the building." 

And thus it may happen that the family arms 
of the servants of God may be put up without their 
knowledge, or may be retained against their will, 
and from what has been already related we may 
gather that such was the case with respect to the 
silver candlesticks likewise, which were given by 
the same S. Charles Borromeo to the Liberian 
Basilica, of which he was archpriest. For to this 
day the arms of his family are to be seen on these 
candlesticks, as well as on some public buildings, 
and particularly on the public schools built at 
Bologna whilst he filled the office of Legate a 
latere. This supposition is still more probable 
from the fact that nearly the whole of the time 
during which he continued to fill this office he 


was living at Rome with Pope Pius IV., and the 
actual government of the city and province was 
entrusted to his Pro-legate, Ccesius, Bishop of 

If, however, instances are to be found in which 
the servants of God, knowingly and volunta 
rily, suffered their name and family honours to 
be posted up, Tauler * does not scruple to 
condemn them who have their arms fixed on 
sacred vestments or other things dedicated to the 
service of the Church. A milder view of the 
question is taken by Nicholas Alemanni,t where, 
after speaking of the antiquity of this custom of 
emblazoning the family name and arms, he adds ; 
" I am aware of the censorious severity of some 
who think that the use of all titles, ensigns, and 
inscriptions is interdicted to us by the rules of 
modesty ; and who enlarge on the sanctity and 
magnanimity of their ancestors in not suffering 
by any means that statues or pictures of them 
should be put up ; deeming that the memory of 
illustrious men is sufficiently handed down to 
posterity by the testimony of their great and good 
actions. Notwithstanding this, however, our an 
cestors, and such, too, as were eminent for their 
probity and modesty, have not hesitated to con 
form in a small degree to this custom, so that 
even these censors of theirs cannot find fault with 
them. To this day are to be seen the statues 
expressed to the Life of Innocent II, in the 

* Serm, I. in Dom. octava post Trinitatem. 
t De Lateranensibus parietinis, cap. 3, p. 13, and cap. 7, pap. 30. 

. $ VOL. ill. 


Basilica of S. Callixtus under the Janiculum, and 
of Paschal I. across the Tiber, at the church of 
S. Cecilia, and at that of S. Praxedes on the 

The same Nicholas Alemanni subjoins other in 
stances, to which we may here add that of S. 
Pius V., since the arms of the family of Ghisleri 
appear carved together with an inscription on the 
buildings assigned by him to the tribunal of the 
most holy inquisition in Rome. 

In the Annals of Cardinal Baronius* we find the 
modesty of the Emperor Constantino loudly ex- 
tolled, because, though he had loaded the churches 
with countless gifts and bounties, he would not 
suffer any inscriptions to be made on them by 
which the memory of his benefits should be trans 
mitted to posterity. " It is worthy of mention, 
he says, "that although Constantino erected so 
many and such noble monuments to the honour 
of God and the saints, not only in Rome itself, 
but likewise iii many places of the Roman em 
pire, in none of them is this modest emperor 
found to have inscribed any title to his own 
praise. Rather this Christian Prince seems to 
have despised that which other emperors before 
him had so eagerly aimed at. Even the very 
best of these, as the Pagans thought, I mean 
Trajan, used to inscribe his own name on all 
the great works he erected, and Constantino used 
wittily, but satirically, to say of him (as Aurelius 
Victor relates) that he was a sort of wall plant, 

* Ad. an. 324, n. 117. 


inasmuch as his name was, like it, found con 
tinually growing to the wall." 

We must conclude, then, as Cardinal Gabriel 
Palseoti* does after a long discussion, that it is 
the highest and most perfect course to refrain 
from posting up one s name and arms. So also 
Marescal,f and Merbesius, j Theophilus Rayiiaud, 
too, argues in the same way: "It is not," 
he says, "always and everywhere to be con 
sidered anomalous, and the mark of a spurious 
piety, for one to put his own arms on any gift 
that he offers to the Church ; although considered 
in itself it is a less perfect thing than if he were 
to refrain from emblazoning his own name on 
earth, and were formally and explicitly to dedi 
cate his services to the glory of God alone." It 
is then a less meritorious thing to set up one s 
own arms, and name, and inscriptions, in one s 
own praise, yet it is in itself an honourable and 
sometimes commendable thing, so long as it is 
done without any intention of vain-glory and 
ostentation, and in a spirit of soberness, or if it is 
done that others may be moved to do the like, or 
again, in order to raise a perpetual monument of 
the power or greatness of the saints, in whose 
honour the work or building is made. " Accord 
ingly," as Cardinal Palaeoti goes on to say, "let 
him who thinks of raising such monuments, or of 
placing his arms on them, turn the matter well 

* De Imaginibus sacr. et profan. lib. 2, c. 50, Existimanus. 

t De Juribus Honorific, p. 157. 

J Summ. Christian, par. 1. qu. 22, p. 283. 

Heteroclit. Spirit, lib. 1, sect. 2, punct. 3, n. 17, p. 134. 


over in his mind and search into his own motives : 
whether it is that he wishes by so doing to incite 
others by his example to repair and adorn the 
Church, whether he is doing an act of homage to 
the saint, and making him his patron ; whether 
he is inviting himself and others to imitate the 
fortitude, patience, and other great deeds of a 
martyr ; whether it is in order to show the love 
he bears towards his Maker, or whether because 
he desires, by such pictures or ornaments, to stir 
up in men s minds a greater reverence towards 
God ; whether it is that he desires men to pray to 
God for the salvation of one who has caused such 
a work to be done, or whether it really is running 
after the common folly ot the world, and catching 
at the vain and empty breath of popular applause." 
In unison with these observations are also those 
of Theophilus Eaynaud.* And so also speaks S. 
Antoninus,! " To this vice (of vain-glory) belongs 
what some do in building churches, hospitals, 
chapels, and providing chalices and vestments 
with their own arms on them, when they do this 
in order to be applauded. They shall be glori 
fied in Thee, says the Psalmist, all they who 
love Thy name. But mark the words, in Thee, 
not in themselves." 

* Tom. 4, de Virtu, et Vit, lib. 6, sect. 2, c. 16, Tom. 8, in S. 
Johan. Benedicto, punct. 11. 

t Summ. par. 2, tit. 4, cap. 1, 22 4, 




1. WHEN the bishop confers the holy order of 
the priesthood, he announces to the people that 
he is about to confer this sacred office on the 
deacons, and adds the following words of admoni 
tion : " But as the minds of two or three persons 
are liable to be deceived by force of argument 
or of affection, we must seek for the opinion of 
the multitude. And so whatever you know of 
their actions or their morals, or whatever you 
think of their deservings, fail not to declare 
openly and bear witness to their fitness for the 
priesthood, rather according to their merits than 
your affection. If, then, any one has anything 
against them, let him come forth with boldness, 
and before God and for God s sake declare it ; 
but let him be mindful of his own condition." 

2. And so likewise when the question is re 
specting the virtues of the servants of God in 
order to their beatification or canonization we 
must have the opinion of many, that is, of all 


those who are enrolled iu the Congregation of 
Sacred Rites, and who are invited to declare freely 
whatever they know of their actions and morals 
from the acts and processes. Nor are they ad 
monished, like the others, to be mindful of their 
own condition, that is, to refrain from lighter 
questions, and insist only on such as are more 
weighty ; rather it belongs to their office to lay 
everything open, in order that in a matter of such 
consequence, a safe judgment may be formed, and 
that it may clearly be made to appear that the 
person to be beatified had been a hero. Hence 
it is that many things are laid down in forming 
this judgment, and although it is not our present 
purpose to follow these out one by one, yet we 
will touch on one or two points which are of 
most frequent occurrence in the examination of 
the causes. 

3. In the acts of the servants of God it is often 
related by witnesses, that sinners have been re 
proved by them, If this has been done with 
gentleness, a doubt is raised respecting the zeal of 
tho servant of God who seems to have done the 
work of God negligently. If, on the other hand, 
it has been done with vehemence of manner, it is 
questioned whether he has not exceeded the due 
bounds of reprehension.* The distinction to be 
drawn between a public notorious sinner and one 
who is secretly so is well known. For in the latter 
case ecclesiastical denunciation ought to be pre 
ceded by private admonition, agreeably to the com- 

* 24. qu. 3, c. Tarn Sacerdotes. 22. qu. 2,5, c. Non put. 


mand of Christ : " But if thy brother shall offend 
thee, go and reprove him between thee and him 
alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy 
brother. But if he will not hear thee, take with 
thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or 
three witnesses every word may stand. And if he 
will not hear them, tell the Church." Matt, xviii. 
15. If, on the other hand, he is a notorious 
offender, then there is no private admonition to 
come before public denunciation, according to 
what the Apostle Paul says in his first epistle to 
Timothy, v. 20 ; " Them that sin reprove 
before all, that the rest may also fear." And to 
Titus, i. 13: "Rebuke them sharply, that 
they may be sound in the faith." And so S. Tho 
mas* says that public sins are to be publicly 

We read of some saints that they sometimes 
reproved secret faults by public admonition, 
but since they were made acquainted with these 
secret faults, not in any human way, but by 
means of Divine Revelation they were not in this 
case bound by the forementioned law of private 
admonition. Everywhere in the lives of the saints 
we read of similar things done ; but not to mention 
other later instances, we may refer to a case related 
by Palladius in his history, where he tells us of a 
public reproof that was given by S. Ammon, by 
Macarius of Alexandria, and by the priest Eulo- 
gius, on account of secret faults which they knew 
by supernatural means. And next, whether the 

* 2. -2dse. quaest. 33, art. 7, in corp. 


admonition was given publicly or privately, another 
question is raised as to the expressions used, 
whether they were too mild, or, on the other hand, 
too severe ; and the answer to this seems to de 
pend on the quality of the persons who are found 
fault with. S. Augustine, in his eighty -third Ser 
mon, de verbis Domini, after saying : "If the sin 
is secret, let the admonition be so too, if public 
and open, let the reproof be public likewise, that 
the offender may amend, and that others may 
fear ;" and also in his exposition of the Galatians, 
he commends the use of gentleness and kindness in 
reproving ; in another place, he says :* " Let every 
Christian be consumed by zeal for the house of 
God.... Do you see your brother on his way to 
the theatre ? If zeal for the house of God con 
sumes you, restrain him, admonish him, be full of 
grief and sorrow. Do you see others hastening in 
order to indulge in drink?... Restrain them if you 
can, hold them if you can, frighten those whom 
you can, soften those you can, exert yourself, and 
rest not. If it is a friend, admonish him gently, 
if a wife, let her be chid with severity, if a servant, 
even with blows." 

With regard to persons in exalted stations, 
S. Francis Xavierj prudently advises that not 
even private admonition should be used unless 
a way has been opened to it by some previous 
friendship, not to say intimacy. And when it 
is used, he adds, it should always be softened 
by a calm and good-natured expression of coun- 

Tract. 10. in Joannem. n. 9, Tom, 3, col. 372. 
t Lib. 4, Epis. 4. 



tenance, and still more by gentle and kind words, 
and professions of good-will and affection. This 
softening down, however, applies to those who 
offend without scandal or obstinacy. For if they 
are obstinate, however secret their fault may be, 
and still more if they are open offenders, and a 
good effect might be looked for from a sharp re 
proof, it would be unreasonable to find fault with 
a servant of God who should make use of it. Ac 
cordingly S. Francis Xavier himself, as Turselli- 
nus, in his Life of him, informs us, acted in this 
way when occasion required it. " He perceived," 
he tells us, " that those who were arrogant and 
factious, and who thought a great deal too highly 
of themselves, ought to be sharply reproved for 
their errors, and that some severity of expression, 
if need be, should be used, in order that their 
headstrong disposition might be subdued by the 
rod of discipline." 

To the same purpose we find in Holy Scrip 
ture that our Lord continually rebuked the Phari 
sees with very severe reproofs. S. John the Bap 
tist publicly reproved the proud king for his 
incest, and spoke to the Jews in these very severe 
terms: "Ye brood of vipers, who hath showed 
you to flee from the wrath to come ?" S. Paul 
says to the Galatians : " senseless Galatians, 
who hath bewitched you that you should not 
obey the truth ?" And to Elymas the public 
seducer: "0 thou full of all guile, and of all 
deceit, son of the devil, enemy of all justice, thou 
dost not cease to pervert the right ways of the 
Lord." And S. Stephen stood up manfully 


against the Jews, telling them, " You stiff-necked 
and uncircuracised in heart and ears, you always 
resist the Holy Ghost." And so S. Gregory 
says very fitly* " some faults are to be dealt with 
very severely, in order that the greatness of a 
sin which is not felt by the doer of it, may be per 
ceived by the words of him who reproves it. And 
so, likewise, when any one smoothes over a fault 
which he has committed, he may learn to fear on 
its account through the severity of the reproof." 
All this, however, seems to apply so long only as 
sinners remain obstinate. But if, on the other 
hand, they repent and acknowledge their fault, 
they should then be received with the arms of 
paternal affection. 

The Dean of Braga had been guilty of some 
fault or other, by which he had excited the grave 
indignation of his archbishop, Bartholomew Do 
Martyribus. S. Charles Bcrromeo wrote to the 
archbishop, and earnestly entreated him in the 
name of the sovereign Pontiff, Pius IV., in 
behalf of the Dean. Here are his words : "I 
cannot refrain from offering to your most rev 
erend lordship a special commendation in behalf 
of your Dean, who, I am fully persuaded, from 
the discourse which I have had with him, is 
most attached to you. Not that he is desirous 
to resist or withstand your lordship, but by the 
mercy of our Lord, to be restored to his former 
place in your favour. And although it is true 
that he has offended somewhat against it, yet, on 

* In. 2, part. Taster, cap. 10, 


account of the natural imbecillity of our condition, 
it is more useful sometimes to correct faults gently, 
than to apply any very stringent measures for 
their removal ; and this, lest either the severity 
of the punishment should hinder the sinner s 
return to virtue, or lest it should seem that we are 
more inclined to angry, than to mild and gentle 
measures; and, finally, in order that there may be 
room, not only for justice, but also for mercy.- 
Now your lordship has opportunity to show your 
clemency, as well as your virtue. If, therefore, 
you shall show yourself merciful to him whom 
before you loved as a son, and embrace him, now 
that he returns to you, with paternal charity, you 
will give a bright example of your own wisdom* 
and, at the same time, will bring back into the 
right way, by the force of your counsel and admo 
nition, him who has fallen. A thing that will be 
pleasing to me, and still more so to our Holy 

4. Similar to this is another question which 
is sometimes raised with respect to those servants 
of God who have given themselves up to the work 
of bringing back heretics. If they have received 
them in a spirit of meekness, they are charged 
with want of courage, if in a stern and severe 
manner, they are accused of imprudence, The 
Apostle admonishes us that a heretic is to be 
rebuked, and after the first and second admoni 
tion to be avoided. *- And S. John Chrysostom, in 
commenting on the passage, understands this of 

* Ep. ad Titura. 3, v. 10. 


those of whose return there is no hope. " Dis 
putes with heretics are to be avoided, that we 
may not labour in vain where no fruit is to be 
expected. Since in this case we have no end 
in view. For when any one is so perverse that 
he has determined, whatever may come, not to 
change his opinion, why should we waste our 
time in sowing on a rock." Yet the same saint 
determines that all possible diligence should be 
used for the conversion of heretics : " Let us 
not omit to set before them the doctrine of the 
Scriptures, but let us labour with all our might 
to deliver them from error, and bring them back 
to the truth. For, though they are sunk in pre 
judice and error, yet they are our fellow crea 
tures, and it is but just that we should care 
greatly for them, never relaxing in our efforts, 
but most diligently doing for them what we can, 
giving them wholesome medicine, that they may 
at length recover their true health."* 

Alanus, the bishop of Auxerre, in his Life of 
S. Bernard, relates how the saint treated Abelard, 
whose writings contained things contrary to the 
Faith. "Desiring," he says, "with his usual 
kindness of heart, that while error was corrected 
the man should not be covered with confusion, he 
addressed him a private admonition ; and acted 
towards him with so much modesty and so much 
reason, that he was struck with compunction, 
and promised to correct everything according as 
he should desire him." 

* Horn. 3. in Genes. 1. Tom. 4, p. 18. 


Pope Leo X., in his Bull, alludes to the gen 
tleness with which he had treated Martin Lu 
ther, though it is in that very Bull that he 
condemns him and his errors. "With re 
gard," so it runs, "to Martin himself, Oh, good 
God, what have we done, or what that belonged 
to paternal affection have we left undone, by 
which we might recall him from such errors ? 
For after we had cited him, desiring to treat 
him as mildly as possible, we sent and invited 
him to come." And Charles Augustus de Sales, 
in his Life of his uncle S. Francis of Sales, tells 
us the great proofs of gentleness which he showed 
in speaking to Theodore Beza. Afterwards he 
subjoins, "There were not wanting some, and 
those, too, religious, who thought him unsuited 
for the work of bringing back heretics, because 
he did not, they said, inveigh against them with 
strong language, but proceeded very gently against 
them, as if he feared them, But he, having learnt 
from his friends these opinions respecting him, 
replied, that he had long proved by experience 
that more good was to be gained by gentleness, 
and that this was the easiest as well as the best 
way. For that heretics, being very proud, were 
not easily moved by strong or harsh language." 

In Baronius there are a number of passages 
collected together out of S. Augustine, some in 
favour of gentleness, others of severity in dealing 
with heretics. And the cardinal remarks that 
the saint was accustomed to use a gentle and 
forbearing way with a heretic that had recently 
lapsed and not yet hardened ; while on the other 


hand, towards obstinate and obdurate heretics 
he failed not to exercise some severity. And 
accordingly, it is by these rules that we should 
judge of the lenity or severity shown by the ser 
vants of God in reproving heretics ; taking care 
further to observe whether they have denounced 
them to the Ecclesiastical Tribunals, if the ques 
tion is concerning heretics living in countries 
where heresy is not allowed to be unpunished, 
and especially in which the decrees of the Holy 
Inquisition have force, since it is by them that 
heretics should be denounced. For indeed, heresy 
is a most serious and deadly evil, which spreads 
its contagious influence like a cancer. And on 
this account it requires a special remedy of its 
own such as can only be obtained from the ec 
clesiastical judge, and to him therefore we must 
have recourse even without, in some cases, begin 
ning with fraternal admonition, as in those hid 
den crimes which bring very heavy evils on the 
community at large. So teaches S. Thomas.* 

5. The holy fathers who have written against 
heretics, have sometimes done so in a sharp and 
severe manner, and at other times detected and 
reproved their errors in the spirit of gentleness, 
not concealing from them that they found many 
things in their writings worthy of praise. S. 
Epiphanius, in his epistle to Acacius and Paul, 
which he makes a preface to the Fanarion, re 
counts the reasons why he wrote sharply against 
the heretics. "Moreover," he says, I earnestly 

* 2 2de qu. 33, art. 7, et, qu. 10, art. 12. 


beg of you, that if, perchance, you find anything, 
although it is not much my custom to attack 
any one, or to use sharp words towards him yet 
if through our burning zeal against heretics, and 
in order to deter our readers from them, we have 
spoken too much in haste, as for instance, if we 
have called our adversaries impostors, vagabonds, 
or wretches, you would make some excuse for us. 
For the very necessities of the contest, and 
the dispute has imposed this labour upon us, 
that we may recover our readers from them, and 
that it may be evident that their services, sacra 
ments, and doctrines, are different from ours and 
forbidden." And at the end of the same work* 
he says : " We were under a necessity to apply 
such names to them, that we might dispel the 
suspicion which some might have entertained, 
that in making known their acts and sayings we 
had given no clear expression of our mind that we 
abhorred every heretical opinion. " S. Basil,! 
writing against the Sabellians, Arius, and the 
Anomseans, cries out against them in these words: 
" But that we may not leave their folly uurefuted, 
who think that they have comprehended every 
thing. Let them answer us" And at the close 

of the homily : "So foolish art thou that not even 
the word itself can lead thee to opinions worthy of 
the spirit." 

S. Bernard | speaking of Peter Abelard, says 
that he had from his earliest years trifled with 

* Fid, Expos, n, 19, p. 1102. 
t Tom. 2, p. 189, horn. 24. 
t Ep. 90, ad. Innocent 2. 


dialectics, and that he afterwards began to be 
mad in the explanation of Holy Scripture. There 
are other illustrations also in the same fathers. 
On the other hand, S. Jerome* speaks more 
gently of Origen and Tertullian : " We praise the 
genius of Tertullian, but condemn his heresy : 
we admire Origen s knowledge of the Scriptures, 
and yet disallow his false doctrines." And in his 
letter to Tranquillinust he mentions in the same 
way, not only Origen and Tertullian, but also 
Novatus, Arnobius, and Apollinaris: " I think that 
we may read Origen sometimes on account of his 
learning, as also Tertullian, Novatus, Arnobius, 
Apollinaris, that we may cull from them what is 
good and avoid the evil ; for neither are his erro 
neous doctrines to be received on account of his 
learning, nor, if he has written any useful com 
ments upon the Scriptures, are they to be rejected 
on account of the erroneousness of his doctrines. 
And again, J he says, that he had in many of his 
published writings already impugned Origen: "Let 
them read the commentators upon Ecclesiastes, 
let them open the three volumes written upon the 
epistle to the Ephesians, and they will perceive 
that I have ever been opposed to his opinions." 
And " on the passage in Isaias, where the two 
seraphims are described, have I not changed the 
hateful interpretation which he gave, namely, the 
Son and Holy Ghost, into the two Testaments ? 
The book has been before the public these twenty 

* Apol. 3, contr. Ruffin. Tom. 2, col. 556. 

t Tom. 1, col. 350. 

J Ep. 84, n. 2. 


years Apollinarius wrote much against Por 
phyry, I approve of his labour, though I despise 
his foolish opinions on many points. Do ye too 
confess that Origen has erred in some things, 
and I will be quiet. When ye shall have rejected 
this, and cut them, as by a measuring rod, from 
the faith of the Church, I will read the rest in 
security, nor shall I be afraid of poison when I 
shall first have drank the antidote." 

There is in Baronius* a letter of Pope Nicholas 
to Charles, King of France, in which he com 
mends a certain work of John Scotus, whom some 
of the French, and especially Florus, had accused 
of some errors, to be brought to him. In that 
are these words : "For that same John, though 
said to be very learned, is commonly reported by 
some not to have always taught what is true." 

But, however, we do not say this with the 
intention of maintaining that it is lawful now to 
praise heretics, for that is prohibited by Clement 
VIII., in his directions added to the rules of the 
index, where we read thus : " Epithets of honour, 
and whatever is said in praise of heretics, must be 
erased." Wherefore Basil Pontiusf reproves 
some catholics who praised the shrewdness of 
Erasmus : " I am ashamed when I see catholics 
thus show their love towards Erasmus, for we 
who admire shrewd follies make illustrious one 
who deserves to be unknown and to be buried, 
with all his followers, in the Cimmerian darkness 
of oblivion." We have thus spoken in order to 

* Ad. aim. 878, n 62. f f)e Matrim. lib. 7, c. 1, n, 6. 

4 VOL. in. 


confirm what we laid down in the preceding 
section, that it depended chiefly on circumstances, 
whether heretics were to be corrected with seve 
rity or with lenity : for it must be said that the 
fathers acted on the same principle, when they 
wrote against them, now one way, now in another, 
always, however, disapproving of their errors. 

6. It also happens sometimes that evil-minded 
men and sinners calumniate the servants of God 
in their life-time. If, then, they have repelled 
the calumny and defended their own reputation, 
there are instances of saints, who when calum 
niated were silent, and maintained that no reply 
is to be given to traducers ; if, again, they have 
remained silent, disregarding their good name 
and reputation, they are ill-spoken of, as those 
who betray their own reputation, for which they 
ought to contend : Eccles. xli. 15 : " Take care 
of a good name ; for this shall continue with thee, 
more than a thousand treasures precious and 
great." We read in Gratian :* " He who relies 
on his good conscience, and neglects his reputa 
tion is cruel." And again :f " They are not to be 
listened to, whether holy men or holy women, 
who say, when they are blamed for negligence in 
any particular, by which they excite suspicion of 
what they yet know to be very far from their life 
and conversation, that in the sight of God their 
good conscience suffices. Whoever, therefore, 
preserves his life from sin and wickedness does 
good to himself: whoever preserves also his repu- 

* Can. Nolo. 12, qu. 1. t A"on aunt, 15, qu. 3. 


tation, is merciful to others : our own life is ne 
cessary for ourselves, our good name to others." 

On the other hand, S. Ambrose,*" on those words 
of the Ps. cxviii. 134: "Redeem me from the 
calumnies of men," after magnifying the gravity 
of calumny, says, that Christ our Lord, by His 
silence triumphed gloriously over calumny ; and 
in another placet thus speaks of that silence : 
"Here is an admirable passage, by which, in 
order to suffer injuries with equanimity, a moral 
patience is infused into the hearts of men. Our 
Lord is accused and is silent, and He is well 
silent, Who needs no defence. Let us, then, seek 
to be defended who fear to be overcome. He 
does not give force to the accusation by being 
afraid, but He despises it by not refuting it. But 
why do I speak of God ? Susanna was silent, and 
prevailed : for that is the better cause, which is 
not defended, and is proved." A resolution of this 
question is to be found in Theophilus Raynaud,| 
who has brought together the fathers on both 
sides. He shows at length that it is lawful for 
every one to refute a calumnious accusation, and 
that it is no sin to do so, but that it is a great 
perfection, and a greater conformity with Christ 
and the more illustrious saints, to refrain from 
refuting it, and to be silent when assailed by 
calumny, This nevertheless he explains to relate 
to him who is not bound by duty or the good of 
his neighbour to refute the accusation ; for if in 

* Serm. 17, Tom. 1, col. 1190. 

t Lib. 10, in Luc. n. 97, Tom 1, co!. l. jr,. 

+ Tom. 12, Hoplothec. contr. ictura calumniae. 3, c. l,p. G8S. 


such case a man were silent, and did not care to 
repel the charge, he would commit a breach of 
duty. This also Rosignoli* discusses at consider 
able length. S. Thomast inquires whether reli 
gious ought to tolerate their traducers : and he 
answers, that it is becoming in perfect men to 
bear injuries with an even mind, but they ought 
not to suffer their state to be impugned, for that 
would be an injury offered directly to God. 

7. Sometimes, too, we read in the Acts of ser 
vants of God, that they readily made supplica 
tions for criminals, and for those condemned to 
exile or death, that they might be delivered from 
the penalties they had incurred ; and immediately 
a question is raised whether they did not swerve 
from the way of perfection, seeing that it is said 
of them that they desired to hinder the course 
of justice. There is a celebrated letter of S. 
AugustineJ on this subject. He replies as fol 
lows to the question, how far it belongs to the 
priestly office to interpose in favour of criminals, 
and how he is not to be regarded as partaking 
in crime, who wishes him whom he knows to be 
guilty to be unpunished. " We by no means 
approve of those errors which we desire to be cor 
rected, nor do we, because it is our pleasure, wish 
to see the evil that is done remain without punish 
ment ; but pitving the man, detesting, however, 
his crime or his wickedness, and the more his evil 
doings displease us, so much the more do we 

* De action. Yirtut. lib. 2, c. 14 t Quodlib. 5, art. 26. 

t Ep. 153, col. 54, ad Mactdon. c. 1, n. 3, Tom. 2, col. 52;.. 


wish he may not die without amendment. He 
is not bound by the ties of iniquity, but of hu 
manity, who punishes the crimes that he may 
deliver the criminal. For correction of manners 
there is no other place than what is furnished 
in this life : for after this every one will receive 
what he has earned for himself here. We are 
therefore compelled by charity to the whole hu 
man race, to interpose in behalf of the guilty, 
that they may not so end this life by punishment, 
that when it is ended, their punishment will never 

To the same effect is that we find in his Life 
written by Possidius,** and illustrated with notes 
by John Salinas, Canon Regular of the Lateran. 
Cardinal Baroniusf also records the examples of 
S. Ambrose, S. Flavian, S. Gregory Nazianzen, 
S. Martin, S. Jerome, who presented supplications 
to the emperors on behalf of criminals who were 
waiting for execution at the commands of the 
governors. S. Bernard rescued from death a 
notorious thief, by admitting him into his con 
vent, and when Count Theobald sharply com 
plained of it, wrote thus in reply : " Thou hadst 
decreed his death by a brief punishment and 
instantaneous destruction, but I will make him 
die by daily tortures and a most tedious death. 
Thou wouldest have hanged him and allowed him 
to remain a corpse on the gibbet for one or more 
days ; I will have him crucified for many years, 
and make him live daily in punishment." He 

* C. 20. t Ad. ann. 308, n. 92. 


put on him the monastic dress, kept him for 
many years, and afflicted him by severe penances 
in the monastery of Clairvaux, as we read in the 
Life of S. Bernard. * 

8. A question is usually raised, with reference 
to those servants of God who belonged to any 
religious order, whether they are liable to a 
charge of any defect, if they have passed out 
of one order into another ; if at any time they 
have not yielded ready obedience to the com 
mands of their superiors ; and lastly, if they have 
so praised their own institute as to say that it 
was to be preferred to the rest. As to passing from 
one order to another, S. Bernard, in his Apology 
to Abbot William, condemns it, even though it 
be from a lax one to another more strict and 
more perfect. In another placet he confirms this 
as follows ; " One of the order of Cluny perhaps 
wishes to bind himself to the poverty of the Cis 
tercians ; chusing purity of rule in preference to 
those customs. If he consults me, I do not advise 
it:" and he then alleges these reasons: "First, 
because of the scandal to them whom he aban 
dons ; next, because it is not safe to abandon 
what is certain for what is doubtful ; for perhaps 
he can observe this, and will not be able to ob 
serve the other. Thirdly, I have a suspicion of 
that levity by which we readily desire, before 
we try, what after experience we decline, almost 
at the same moment desiring and rejecting the 

* Opp. Tom. 2, col. 12 i9, lib. 7, c. 15. 
+ Tom. 1, col. 524, lib. de praecept. et dispeiisat. col. ol -i. 


same thing as lightly as unreasonably, of such 
indeed we have experience frequently, who ever 
desire what they have not, and dislike what they 

If great advantage or necessity requires it, 
to pass from one order to another will be praise 
worthy, according to S. Thomas,* and S. Ber 
nard blames it when it is the result of levity 
of mind. S. Nicholas of Tolentino had been a 
Canon Regular before he entered the Augustinian 
Order, as is reported by S. Antoninusf and Penn- 
nott.J S. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, withdrew 
from the Canons Regular, and submitted himself 
to the severity of the Carthusians. There are 
many like instances of other saints, which Thomas 
de Herrerg has brought together. S. Thomas 
Aquinas, as some have lately said, before he 
entered the Dominician order had been a Benedic 
tine monk of Monte Casino, but this rests on no 
foundation, for he went to Monte Casino at five 
years old to be educated, in company with other 
noble youths, according to the received custom of 
bringing up boys in the schools of the monks, as 
Justus Fontanini, Archbishop of Ancyra, learn 
edly observes in his notes to the Bull of Canoni 
zation of S. Thomas Aquinas. 

S. John Gualbert, as Cardinal Baronius|| 
relates, left the monastic rule which he had 

* 2. 2de. qu. 189, art. 8. t Chron. part 3, tit. 24, c. 10. 

t Hist. Tripart. lib. 2, c. 73, n. 4. 

Respons. Pacific, ad Apolog. de Praetens. Monachal. Augustin,. 
S. Francisci, resp. 3, nn. 63, ad 70, n. 83, p. 44, et sequ. et p. 51. 
|| Ad arm. lool, u. 1. 


previously observed, in order to become author 
and founder of the new order of Vallombrosa. 
In like manner, S. Dominic, and S. Francis of 
Paula, left, the first, the Canons regular, the 
second the Friars Minor, that they might com 
mence a new order. And Peter Sutor,* reso 
lutely defends those Canons regular who, aban 
doning their own institute, became the companions 
of S. Bruno, in the foundations of the new Car 
thusian order. " To pass over from one order 
to another is not forbidden in general, but the 
doing so rashly. He passes over rashly who 
does, not only out of levity, or upon a first 
and sudden impulse, but also through indignation, 
vanity, or any other like influences. But he, 
who out of a discreet fervour, and zeal for 
greater holiness, desires to afflict his body more 
continually, to live more devoutly, to give himself 
more to contemplation, to be nearer to God, and 
finally to practise greater exercises of religion, 
may accomplish his severer resolution." They 
are not to be said to pass from one order to ano 
ther, who leave one community to enter another 
of the same rule, but of stricter observance. This 
was well considered in the cause of the venerable 
Servant of God, brother Michael de Santi, who left 
the calced order of the most Holy Trinity for the 
Redemption of captives for the discalced commu 
nity of the same order. The heroic virtues of 
this servant of God were approved of by Us in 
the year 1742. 

De vit. Carthus. lib. 1, cap. 6. 


9. With reference to ready obedience to supe 
riors, there are many sayings of the fathers on 
the subject of blind obedience to the commands 
of superiors. " In the contract of obedience," 
these are the words of Peter of Blois,* "there 
is no place for dispute or questioning ; for, to 
discuss, and to be suspicious of, those things 
which are commanded, is to stretch forth the 
hand of prevarication to the tree of knowledge 
of good and evil. This is not to obey in the 
hearing of the ear, this is not the obedience of 
a monk without hesitation, but a reluctant cun 
ning." In Cassian, too, we read thus: "Make 
thyself a fool in this world, according to the 
saying of the apostle, that thou mayest be wise, 
not deciding upon or discussing those things 
which thou art commanded to do, but always be 
obedient in all simplicity and faith, considering 
that only to be holy, that only to be useful, that 
only to be wise, which either- the love of God, 
or the bidding of a superior has shown thee ; 
for with such principles thou wilt be able to 
remain for ever under this discipline, and no 
temptations of the enemy, no factions will ever 
drive thee away from thy monastery." 

These are even examples which seem to show 
that superiors are to be obeyed in things clearly 
unlawful. Simeon Metaphrastes,t relates that 
Theodora, who in the garb of men, lived with 
monks, was sent by her superior to dra-y water, 

* Ep. 131. Biblioth. PP. torn. 24, p. 1043. 
t Surius, torn. 5, Sept. 11. 


with manifest danger of life, from a pool which 
was frequented by a crocodile, that destroyed 
all who approached it. In Surius,* also, we read 
that the monk Elstan was ordered by his abbot 
to thrust his hand into boiling water, to bring 
up something out of the cauldron. 

In the Life of S. Benedict, written by S. 
Gregory, it is said that when the monk Placid us 
fell into the water, the monk Maurus, at the 
command of S. Benedict, ran to him upon the 
water and delivered him. Thereupon a dispute 
arose between Benedict and Maurus, the former 
attributing the act to obedience, the latter to 
the merits of Benedict. In this friendly contest 
of humility, Placidus interposed, saying, that 
when he was taken out of the water, he saw over 
his head the melotes of the abbot, that is, the 
monastic cowl, according to Hsestens, in his 
Disquisitions, or the Pallium, according to Ma- 
billon, and that he thought it was the abbot 
who brought him out of the water. 

But the superior is not to be obeyed when he 
commands anything contrary to the divine law, as 
we read in Gratian,t " If he who is in authority 
has done, or has commanded any one to do that 
which is forbidden by our Lord, the sentence of the 
apostle will press upon him : Though we, or an 
angel from heaven preach a gospel to you, beside 
that which we have preached to you, let him be 
anathema. " Neither is a monk to obey his abbot 

* Tom. 4, Aug. 1. 
t Cau. Si is quiprae. est. II, qu. 3. 


when he commands anything contrary to the rule, 
according to the well-known letter of S. Bernard 
to the monk Adam. A blind obedience excludes 
the prudence of the flesh, not the prudence of 
the spirit, as is shown at length by Suarez.* 

According to S. Thomas,! obedience is threefold ; 
one sufficient for salvation, when a man obeys in 
those things which are matters of obligation, the 
second, perfect, when a man obeys in all things 
lawful ; the third, indiscriminating, when a man 
obeys even in things not lawful. And according 
to the same holy doctor, | a superior is to be 
obeyed in those things which are according to 
the rule, and in those things which have refe 
rence to the rule ; but in those things which have 
no reference at all to the rule, it is not of the 
essence of obedience, but of perfection, to obey. 

It is clear, then, to every one from this, that 
we must not forthwith determine that a servant 
of God, who has not obeyed the command of 
his superior, has been deficient in the virtue of 
obedience, or in the perfection of obedience ; but 
we must first consider and weigh the command 
of the superior, before a favourable or unfavoura 
ble judgment is given on the conduct of the ser 
vant of God. 

10. Father Rodriguez, treating of obedience 
which monks owe to their superiors, says admi 
rably, " It is not called blind, because we have 
to obey in everything that is commanded, whether 

De Kelig. torn. 4, lib. 4, c. 15, n. 27. 

t 2. 2dae. qu. 104, art. 5. J Quodlib. 10, art. 10. 

? Exercit. Perfect, et virtut. Religion, part. S, tr. 5, c. 6. 


that be a sin or not ; for this would bo an error, 
and our Father he is speaking of S. Ignatius 
calls it so in the Constitutions ; but it is called 
blind, because in everything, where no sin is, we 
have to obey simply and sincerely, without in 
vestigation, or seeking reasons for what is com 
manded us, taking it for granted that what is 
enjoined is holy, and agreeable to the Divine Will, 
and contenting ourselves with this only reason, 
that it is obedience, and what our superior com 
mands us." And again,* " S. Gregory and S. 
Bernard speak much to the purpose : an evil 
thing is not to be commanded, and in a matter 
which may be sin, it is clear the subject is not 
to obey ; but to omit doing some good thing, 
because obedience forbids it, that must be done. 
Superiors sometimes forbid certain things which 
are in their own nature good, either because they 
are not then suitable for the subject, or in order 
to prove his virtue and his obedience." 

The examples already mentioned are not im 
perative ; we have brought them forward to show 
how much the virtue of obedience and simplicity 
pleases God ; and also for imitation, not in every 
single circumstance, but only in their perfection 
and simplicity, according to the usual and ordi 
nary laws of obedience. For it is certain that 
just men are sometimes moved by the Holy 
Ghost to do wonderful things above the common 
and ordinary course of virtues ; which manner 
of working is proposed as an example to us, not 

* Loc. cit. c. 7. 


that we are to imitate the same manner of work 
ing, but that, moved at least by admiration of 
it, we should strive to attain to the perfection 
of virtue, as Suarez* explains at length. 

11. Finally, the servants of God must be par 
doned for their simplicity, if they have praised 
their own order above all others ; their words 
ought to receive either a charitable interpreta 
tion, or be ascribed to that most ardent love 
which they feel towards their own order. S. 
Bonaventuref thus speaks of his own order of 
the Friars Minor : " In the third place, let him 
reflect upon that to which he is called ; because 
the grace of our Redeemer has not called him 
to the rule of blessed Augustine or Benedict, 
but to that most sacred one which He choose 
Himself, when He was led into the desert, when 
He fasted forty days and forty nights, and in 
the deepest poverty preached in the world, most 
vehemently intent on the salvation of all, and 
which His own precursor properly founded, ob 
serving it in his own person, and showed to us 
for our observance. This rule so far excels 
all other rules, as the divine wisdom excels 
all human learning." Of every holy confessor, 
the Church says, " there was not found alike to 
him who kept the law of the Most High." And 
upon this subject Cardinal Pallavicinoj: observes, 
" It will be pride in thee to regard some interior 
endowment or condition, common to thyself and 

* Loc. cit. n. 33. 

+ Mystic. Theolog. c, 1, part. 2, torn. 7, p, 702. 
t Yindic. Soc. Jes. c. 48. 


a few besides, such as kindred and blood. For 
that praise distributed among few, in a great 
measure reaches to thee. But if thou esteemest 
highly an order containing some thousand mem 
bers, how little of it belongs to thee ?" 

12. But that is a more important difficulty, 
which sometime occurs in the matter of the 
vow of poverty, and which I have often raised 
in the causes of those servants of God who 
were monks, because of the non-observance 
of a life in community, and the possession of 
private property, granted by relations or acquired 
by personal exertions, contrary to what is laid 
down in the Holy Canons, and especially by the 
Council of Trent." 1 There was published at 
Rome in 1695 a little work, entitled Trattato 
della vita comune, which was approved of by very 
great theologians. In the twentieth chapter of 
it are enumerated the circumstances and condi 
tions under which, notwithstanding the Council 
of Trent, religious may be permitted the use 
of private property, The first is, that they must 
not have it as owners, but as usufructuaries. 
The second, that there shall be a tacit or express 
permission of superiors. The third, that the 
property shall be moderate and not superfluous. 
The fourth, that it be not mixed up with the 
other property of the monastery. The fifth, that 
the possession of it shall be at the will of the 
superior. The sixth, that the monk shall apply 
it only to lawful and necessary purposes. The 

* Sess. 25, de Regular et num. c. 2. 


seventh, that it shall not be in his own power, 
but in the hands of one deputed publicly by 
the superiors. The eighth, that when the monk 
requires any of it from that public officer, he 
shall mention that which is necessary for him. 
The ninth, that this way of living cannot be 
changed without scandal. The tenth, that the per 
mission, tacit or express, shall have been granted 
for just and reasonable causes. We might sum 
up the whole in fewer words, by saying, that 
private property is lawful, if the rules of the 
order, approved by the Sovereign Pontiffs, admit 
of it, if the monk applies it to lawful and neces 
sary objects approved by his superior, and if 
he so retain it, as to be always prepared to resign 
it to his superior whenever he shall be commanded 
to do so. 

Blessed Peter Damiani,* who blamed the sove 
reign Pontiff S. Leo IX., on account of his war 
against the Normans, made use of these words : 
" If any one objects to this, that Pope Leo fre 
quently made war upon the Normans, yet never 
theless was a saint, I say what I think : Peter 
did not obtain the Apostolate because he denied, 
nor did David deserve the oracle of prophecy, 
because he defiled another man s bed ; for good 
and evil are not to be weighed according to their 
merits who do them, but rather ought to be 
decided upon their own qualities." In the 
present question, if my opinion were required, I 
would not apply the words of blessed Peter Da- 

* Kp. 9, lib. 4. 


miani to all, but to some. I would say, that the 
proof of the sanctity of a regular servant of God 
is not to be derived from his possession of private 
property, and the use of it, not because I disap 
prove of that use under fitting conditions, but 
because the proofs of holiness are to be derived 
from heroic acts. In one word, Damiani deter 
mined that Leo was not a saint, because he made 
war, and so I would determine that a regular ser 
vant of God is not to be enrolled among the saints, 
because he had private property. Damiani 
judged, though perhaps not correctly, that Leo 
sinned in making war, and yet, notwithstanding, 
was a saint, on account of other noble deeds which 
he did. And I too would judge that a regular 
servant of God, endowed with heroic virtues, may 
be canonized, although he may have had private 
property, not because the sin of private possession 
was hidden by the splendour of his other virtues, 
but because excellence and greater perfection, 
which cannot be inferred from the possession of 
property, is derived from the course of other 

13. Proceeding to those rules, by the help of 
which a safe judgment may be formed concerning 
the acts of servants of God, we premise the doc 
trine of theologians, who teach, in the first place, 
that human acts derive their character of goodness 
from their object, their circumstances, and the 
end which the doer of them has in view : secondly 
that an act, good in the object, but evil in its 
end and circumstances, is altogether evil : thirdly, 
setting aside the question, whether there be any 


human act indifferent in an individual, the more 
general opinion is, that there are human actions 
which are in their object and kind indifferent, tha* 
is, neither definitely good, nor definitely evil, and 
which, therefore, derive their character of good 
ness or wickedness, from a good or evil end : 
fourthly, that a good purpose, namely, of a good 
end, is vitiated by an evil choice of means : for if 
any one, having an effectual purpose to give alms, 
should determine to steal, that he might be able 
to give it, that purpose, from the choice of such 
means, namely theft, would become evil and 
vitiated : fifthly, that the purposing a good end 
does not take away the wickedness from an evil 
choice ; whence it is that those things which are 
intrinsically and essentially evil, cannot be good 
because the end is good. 

This is laid down by S. Augustine :* " It 
is of the greatest importance why, for what end, 
with what purpose, a thing is done : but those 
things which are clearly sin, are not to be done 
under any excuse of a good cause, any good end, 
or any good purpose. When the very acts are 
sin, as theft, adultery, blasphemies, or other 
things of that kind, who is there who will say 
that they may be done in a good cause, so that 
either they are not sins, or, what is more absurd, 
they are just sins ? Who is there who will say 
that we may rob the wealthy, in order to give 
alms to the poor, or that we may bear false wit 
ness, especially, if the innocent be not thereby 

* Tom. 6, col. 456, de mendacio. c. 7, n. 18. 
5 VOL. in. 


injured, but the guilty rather delivered from the 
hands of judges, who are about to condemn them?" 
The same subject is discussed at length by S. 
Thomas.* Lastly, theologians say that to have a 
good end in view, diminishes the wickedness of a 
bad choice of means ; as S. Augustinef teaches in 
the same place : " Some one will say, is every 
thief, therefore, on an equality with that thief who 
steals, willing to show mercy ? Who can say this ? 
But of these two, one of them is not therefore good, 
because one is worse than the other. For he is 
worse who steals through covetcousness, than he 
who does so to show mercy. But if all theft be 
sin, we must refrain from all theft." With him 
agrees S. Thomas, J who thus speaks of lying : 
" By how much the intent is better, by so much is 
diminished the fault of lying." 

14. These are the rules which theologians lay 
down concerning the good or evil of human ac 
tions ; and the same rules consequently must be 
applied to the actions of the servants of God, when 
they are examined in the Congregation of Sacred 
Rites. The object of their actions, circumstances, 
end, and these other considerations already men 
tioned, will have to be carefully weighed, when a 
doubt is raised as to their goodness or wickedness. 
This is well explained by S. John Chrysostom : 
" When thou seest him circumcise and sacrifice, 
thou must not therefore condemn him as judaizing ; 
but rather crown him as one free from Judaism. 

* 2.2. qu. 110. ar. 3. + C. 8. 

t 2. 2dse. qu. 110. art. 2. 
Horn. 1C, in Ep. Rom, n. 1, Tom. 9, p. C04. 


So also, when thou seest him wish himself to be 
anathema, be not therefore disturbed, but rather 
praise him, when thou shalt have learned the 
reason. Unless we examine into causes, we shall 
call Elias a murderer, and Abraham not a mur 
derer simply, but the murderer even of his own 
son. We shall also accuse Phinees and Peter of 
murder ; and not of the saints only, but also even 
of God, Who does not obserVe this rule, we shall 
suspect much that is unreasonable. Lest this 
should take place in many similar cases, let us 
gather together, if we would examine the matter, 
the cause, the intention, the time, and every other 
consideration which is adapted to put the matter 
in its true light." 

The emperor Maximus often sent for S. 
Martin, and greatly honoured him when he 
came to his palace. The queen could not 
be removed from his feet, and after great re 
sistance, with the consent, and at the entreaty 
of her husband, obtained from him her desire, 
that she might alone, without attendants, serve 
him at table. In the second dialogue of Sul- 
picius Severus, on the virtues of blessed Martin, 
Posthumianus thus questions Gallus : " Where is 
that, that no woman was said ever to have been 
near to Martin ? So the queen was not only near 
him, but she ministered to him. And I fear that 
they defend themselves somewhat, by means of 
that example, who was so ready to associate with 
women." To this Gallus replies, that the place, 
the time, and the person, are to be taken into 
consideration : also, that Martin had unwillingly 


complied with the request of the emperor and the 
queen, and that he must have done so in order to 
release prisoners, and bring back those who wero 
condemned to exile ; he then speaks as follows : 
" Let them see to it, for Martin once only in his 
life, and when he was seventy years old, was served, 
and ministered unto, not by a widow, or a wanton 
virgin, but by a queen, living with her husband, 
who also joined her in* her request. She stood by 
him while he was eating, and did not sit down at 
the table with him ; she did not presume to share 
in the feast, but, out of reverence, gave it. Do 
thou, then, learn discipline ; let the matron serve, 
not command, thee ; let her wait, and not sit down 
with thee, as Martha ministered to our Lord, and, 
nevertheless, was not admitted to the feast ; yea, 
rather she who heard His words is preferred to her 
who ministered. But with reference to Martin, 
the queen fulfilled both, she ministered as Martha, 
and heard as Mary. But if any one will follow 
this example, let him observe it throughout : let 
the occasion, the person, the respect, and the 
banquet, be alike, and let it take place but once 
in a whole life." 

15, In confirmation of what we have hitherto 
said, those things may be applied which we have 
written before on the subject of those reports 
and manifestations which servants of God have 
sometimes allowed themselves to make, of their 
own good works, and of the gifts which God has 
bestowed upon them. Again, too, we may repeat, 
on the subject of reproving sinners or heretics, 
which the servants of God did gently or sharply : 


in addition to which, Rodriguez,* also may be 
referred to. We may add that some saints 
afflicted their bodies ; nevertheless they observed 
perfect cleanliness, some others sought to avoid 
cleanliness. Maffeif thus writes of S. Ignatius, 
" He loved cleanliness in food and dress, but 
such as was easy and not refined, and as became 
a traveller and a servant of Christ." S. Jerome, J 
says, "a dress not too neat, not filthy," and 
again : " neither an affected want of cleanli 
ness, nor a refined neatness becomes a Christian." 
Geoffrey the monk, in his Life of S. Bernard,^ 
says, " In dress poverty ever pleased him, dirt 
never. Indeed, he used to say, that these 
are indications of a mind either negligent, or 
self-complacent, or seeking human praise from 
others." S. Philip Neri followed his example, 
as we learn from Peter Jacob Bacci,|| " He loved 
neatness, and was extremely displeased with dirt, 
especially in dress, and he used frequently to 
repeat the saying of S. Bernard : I am always 
pleased with poverty, never with dirt. 

On the other hand, Tertullian1[ thus writes con 
cerning holy Job : " The evil one was cut in twain, 
when Job pointed out the foul flow of his ulcers 
with great patience, and in merriment recalled the 
worms that went forth from him back again into the 
same retreats, and to their pasture in his pierced 

Exercit. perfect, et virtut. Relip;ios. part 3, tr. 8, c. 19. 

t Vit. lib. 3, c. la. 

t Ep. 22, ad Eustocli. lib. 2, n. 27, Tom. I, col. 309. 

C. 2. il Lib. 2, c. 14, rt, 8. 

f De patientia, c. 24, c. 20 ;. 


flesh." Jacob Pamelius, the commentator on 
Tertullian, mentions a similar fact in the case 
of S. Francis of Assisi. It is written of S. 
Hilarion, that he neither changed nor washed 
the sackcloth he wore since he first put it on, 
saving, "it was useless to look for cleanliness 
in hair-cloth." Finally, Odeardus, in his life of 
S. Thomas of Canterbury says : " he was found 
after death to have worn sackcloth, infested with 
vermin, so that martyrdom itself seemed pre 
ferable to it." 

All these things, although differing from each 
other, may be good and meritorious, if they 
proceed from good intentions, and are done 
under befitting circumstances, as Cardinal Bona,* 
well observes ; " Actions, likewise, and words, 
are not to be considered in themselves, nor to 
be referred to the examples of saints, but to the 
principle or motive of so speaking and acting. 
For S. Martin at the point of death said, 
Lord, if I am still necessary to thy people, I 
do not refuse to labour. But the holy men, 
Philip Neri and Francis of Sales, refused to use 
those words, the one out of charity, the other 
out of humility. S. Francis sometimes pre 
tended to be a fool, that he might be despised, 
sometimes he gave his habit to be kissed, that 
he might be honoured, not himself indeed, but 
God in him. S. Hilarion would not observe 
cleanliness in his sackcloth, S. Bernard desired 
it, and commended it. In order to arrive at 

* De. Discret. Spirit, c. 7, n. 5. 


a correct judgment, we must inquire, by what 
spirit he is led, by what principles governed, 
and what is the proximate and proper motive 
of his words and actions." Cardinal de Laursea,* 
is of opinion that dirt is to be commended, when 
applied to the mortification of the flesh. 

16. With this agrees other things which are to be 
met with in the Acts of the Saints. S. Ambrose 
occasionally invited great men to dinner. For 
Count Arbogastes boasted that he had frequently 
sat at table with him. " He knew the man, and 
was beloved by him, and had frequently feasted 
with him." Thus Paulinus,t in his Life of S. 
Ambrose. On the other hand S. Martin, after 
the example of S. Ambrose, being solteited by 
Vincentius, Prefect of Gaul, to admit him to din 
ner in the monastery, refused to do it, as we 
learn from Sulpicius Severus : J "I remember 
that the Prefect Vincentius, an excellent man, 
than whom none could be found in all Gaul more 
illustrious for every virtue, when he passed by 
Tours, used to beg of Martin to entertain him in 
the monastery. He alleged the example of S. 
Ambrose, who was reported to entertain the con 
suls and prefects from time to time ; but Martin, 
a man of higher purpose, refused, lest vanity or 
pride should result from the act." 

From the same root of chanty proceeded conduct 
so apparently different : what Ambrose did with 
good intentions, Martin with good intentions would 

* 3. Sent. Tom. 2, disp. 31, art. 10, n. 506. 

t Tom. 2, app. col. 8, Opp. S. Ambros. 

t Dialog. I, c. 25, 


riot do : the circumstances, too, were for the most 
part essentially different, as Thomassine""- well 
explains : " If Martin indeed refused, when Am 
brose went readily, to meet great men at table, we 
are not to be more surprised at them, than at 
John, who came neither eating nor drinking, and 
Christ, Who sat at table with publicans : both 
having one aim before them, to become all things 
to all, that they might gain all to God. Ambrose 
led a civil and courtly life, Martin was a monk, 
the conduct of both, apparently most different, 
resulted from the one heavenly root of charity." 

Pseesius and Isaias, brethren, divided the pro 
perty which their father, a rich merchant, had left 
them. One of them distributed the whole among 
monasteries and churches, and when he had learnt 
a craft by which he could procure bread, gave 
himself to it and to prayer. The other distribu 
ted none of it, but having built a monastery, and 
brought together a few brethren, entertained every 
stranger, nursed every sick person, and gave to 
every poor man. When both were dead, there 
arose a question among the brethren, which of 
these two had chosen the better way of life. The 
matter was referred to Pambo for his solution, 
who replied, that both were perfect in the sight of 
God ; one had performed the work of Abraham, 
who used to receive all, the other had the most 
firm zeal of the prophet Elias, that he might 
please God. The answer did riot please the breth 
ren. And when Pambo, in order to satisfy them, 

* De Vet, ct Nov. Eccles. Disci pi. part. ", lib 3, c. 34, n. 8. 


bade them wait, that he might have a revelation 
concerning them, which he would afterwards make 
known to them, after the lapse of some days he 
said, that he had seen them both together in Par 
adise, though they had upon earth led different 
kinds of life, for each kind was derived from one 
source. Thus we read in the life of Pseesius and 
Isaias, written by Palladius, in the Lausiac History. 

17. Sulpicius Severus relates in the life of S. 
Martin, that when the saint was called and required 
to undertake the episcopate of Tours, some bishops 
were opposed to this elevation, because his gar 
ments were dirty and his hair in disorder. " A 
few, however, and some of the bishops who had 
been summoned to create a bishop, impiously 
resisted, saying, that he was a contemptible per 
son; that a man of mean appearance, whose dress 
was dirty, and whose hair was in disorder, was 
unworthy of the episcopate." His election was 
accomplished, but not without divine signs, and Sul 
picius thus describes him after he had taken pos 
session of the bishopric. " Now, when he was a 
bishop, it is beyond my power to show what, and 
how great, he was. He was the same that he had 
always been. The same humility of heart, the 
same poverty of dress, as before, and thus, full of 
power and grace, he sustained the episcopal dig 
nity, and yet did not abandon the resolution and 
virtue of a monk." 

Of S. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh in 
Ireland, S. Bernard* thus writes : " When he 

* Vit. cap. 19, n. 44. 


went about preaching, he went on foot with 
others, he a bishop and a Legate," and then he 
thus speaks of the bishops of his time : " They 
mount horses with a crowd of men who eat bread 
for nothing, and that not their own ; Malachy at 
tended by holy brethren went on foot, carrying the 
Bread of Angels to satisfy the souls of the hungry. 
Oh, apostolic man !" Blessed Peter Damiani, in his 
Life of Romuald, relates that S. Boniface the Mar 
tyr, a kinsman of the Emperor Otho III., travelled to 
Koine barefooted, attended by his servants, whom 
he preceded singing psalms, although he was go 
ing to Rome to be ordained bishop. " During the 
whole of that journey the venerable man, with all 
who followed him, went on foot. But he was con 
tinually singing psalms, and far advanced before 
the rest, went ever barefooted," Some think it 
becoming in him who has a public character to 
sustain, to pay some regard to outward appear 
ances, yet without vanity, but so as to rescue his 
dignity from contempt. Sperelli* has brought 
together many observations on this subject. 

Almost all the modern bishops, renowned for 
their sanctity, have been decently, not sordidly, 
clad, and used some furniture, yet it was modest. 
And though they differed in this respect from the 
bishops of former ages, yet neither are they, nor 
others, for this reason, to be found fault with, but 
both are worthy of the highest commendation, see 
ing that they all had purposed to themselves as the 
end and the principal aim of their conduct, the 

* Tr. do Episcopo. part. - , c. oU, sub. 3. 


happy government of the people committed to their 
charge. Some, indeed, I might say, chose a sordid 
humility in their dress and furniture, as being bet 
ter adapted to the edification of their people; others, 
indeed, chose a certain exterior neatness, as under 
altered circumstances, more fitting to preserve 
their dignity from contempt. Others bringing out 
of their treasure things new and old, presented to 
the eyes of men a fitting neatness of dress, and 
modest furniture, and when they were unseen, 
wore tattered garments, and held all furniture, 
however modest, in abhorrence. Instances of this 
may be found in the Acts of S. Thomas of Villa- 
nova, and S. Charles Borromeo. 

Gomez relates that Ximenez, when he was made 
archbishop of Toledo, would ride on an ass, as he 
had been in the habit of doing, or go on foot between 
monks of his order ; that no tapestry covered tho 
walls of his house; in one word, he disliked all out 
ward pomp, so that Alexander VI., determined to 
admonish him by apostolic letters, in the form of a 
Brief. " We exhort thee, seeing the apostolic See 
has raised thee from a low estate to the archiepisco- 
pal dignity, as we understand thee to live with an 
interior conscience towards God, which makes us 
greatly to rejoice, also, to endeavour to have, and 
maintain outwardly, according to the requirements 
of thy state, thy dress, retinue, and other things 
beseeming the honour of thy dignity." After this, 
the face of things was changed, and the question 
still remains for decision, whether he fell into 
excesses deserving of condemnation. The promo 
ters of the faith, during the discussion of the 


cause of this servant of God, objected to him this 
excess, that he wore a garment of valuable skins 
which they call Zebellina, so that a preacher publicly 
reproached him to his face, with wearing a tunic 
of such great price as would suffice to maintain 
half the poor of all Toledo. The postulators re 
plied, that from this were derived proofs of the 
moderation and humility of Ximenez, for he 
invited most kindly the preacher to his table, 
during the meal praised his sermon, and thanked 
him for his rebuke ; then, showing a hair-cloth 
which he wore next his skin, showed, with sufficient 
clearness, that he presented to the eyes of men 
the splendour and adornment of a bishop, while he 
observed in secret the poverty and humility of a 
Franciscan. The whole subject is related at 
length by Donio.* 

And Gomez adds, that this precious robe 
was presented to Ximenez by Beltran, a sena 
tor of the new world, that it was valued at 
three thousand golden ducats, and that Ximenez 
kept it for some days, in order that he might 
not seem to slight the donor, but that, after 
wards, under pretence of an illness from which 
he was suffering, he sent it back, as being unfit 
for him at such a time. 

18. We have said before, that the malice of an 
act, and also of a bad choice of means, are dimin 
ished, on account of the goodness of the end. This 
same rule ought to be observed in the examination 
of the causes of the servants of God, if any action 

C:\nlinul. Tom. ", j>. 20, n. 7?;. 


occurs at variance with canonical rule, provided it 
be commended by having a good end in view. 
Popes and councils have sometimes sanctioned the 
providing soldiers by bishops and abbots, for the 
defence of a kingdom. Besides, some holy bishops 
remained in camps, that they might administer 
the sacraments. Some bishops have exceeded 
these limits, for they led armies in person, though 
not in armour, nor fighting in battle. Surius, in 
his Life of S. Udalric, bishop of Augsburg, says 
that this was done by the bishop j nor are there 
wanting other similar examples of holy bishops. 

Of these facts. Thomassme~ ;fl speaks: "Nor is it 
at variance with truth, that sometimes most holy 
bishops could for a time turn aside from the right 
path, and the accurate observance of holy rules, 
whether through inadvertence, or carried away by 
the stream of custom, or through some blandish 
ment of charity, accommodating themselves to the 
will of the prince, from whom they hoped after 
wards that more abundant services would be ob 
tained for the dignity and welfare of the Church." 
And if not to these, at least, to a like class, 
may be referred some excesses of which William 
speaks in the Life of S. Bernard : t " Moreover, if 
excess of holy fervour is blamed in him, that 
excess certainly meets with reverence in pious 
minds ; for they who are led by the spirit of God, 
greatly fear to blame that great excess in a servant 
of God. It is easily excused before men, when 

* De. Vet. et. nov. Eccles. DiscipL part, s, lib. 1, c. 40, n. 14. 
i Tom. 2, co]. H94, lib. 1, c. 8, n. 41. 


scarcely any one will venture to condemn him 
whom God justifies, working with him and through 
him, so many, and such high things. Happy is 
he to whom that only is imputed as a fault, which 
others lay hold as conducting to their honour. 
Therein the servant of God, although perhaps ho 
has exceeded, has left behind him certainly to 
pious minds, an example, not of excess, but of 
fervour. " 

19. What, then, is to be said, when, after weigh 
ing and considering all the circumstances, a doubt 
still remains concerning the goodness or malice 
of an act? Shall a favourable or unfavourable 
interpretation of the goodness of the act be 
assumed in the judgment of canonization ? S. 
Bernard* says : * Even if thou perceivest an evil 
act, do not so judge thy neighbour, but rather 
excuse him. Excuse the intention, if thou canst 
not excuse the deed. Impute it to ignorance, to 
surprise, to chance." But if this doctrine of S. 
Bernard were applied to the subject now under 
discussion, every inquiry concerning the virtues of 
the servants of God, which is undertaken with a 
view to canonization, would be destroyed and sub 
verted. It might, however, be useful to those who 
are to be beatified and canonized, if, in their life 
time, they have so conducted themselves in judg 
ing of the acts of others. This must not be acted 
upon, when we are treating of their actions, and 
while the discussion of them proceeds. If it be 
certain that they were evil, a judgment must be 

Serm. 40, Super. Cantic. n. 5, Tom, 1, col. 1415. 


pronounced upon their wickedness, and a diligent 
inquiry must be made, to ascertain whether they 
threw a cloud over the other virtues. We may 
add, that S. Bernard speaks of those acts which 
are known to be evil, but the present question 
relates to those, concerning which there is a doubt, 
whether they were good or evil, of which S. 
Thomas* writes : " Therefore, when there seem no 
clear proofs of the wickedness of a man, we ought 
to regard him as good, giving a favourable inter 
pretation to what is doubtful." 

I have occasionally heard some of the Consul- 
tors of the Sacred Congregation maintain that 
this applies when the works of the canonized 
servants of God are discussed ; but that the case 
is otherwise, when we have to scrutinize their 
conduct who are to be canonized. This distinc 
tion, however, between those who have been, and 
those who are to be, canonized, I have never 
approved of ; inasmuch as the actions and works 
of the canonized have been accomplished, not 
subsequent, but prior to canonization, and the 
examination of them also has preceded canoniza 
tion ; from this we may prove that a judgment 
has been pronounced upon their goodness before 
canonization, and thus the doubt has been favour 
ably settled. Wherefore, in practice, if any doubt 
occurs, the solution of it is to be sought in the 
rest of the life, and in the other actions of the 
servant of God. To make this clearer by an 
illustration, let us suppose that a servant of God 

* 2. 2dre. qu, <!0, art. 4. 


made use of some expressions, about which a doubt 
may arise, whether they may not have proceeded 
from boasting. In this case, as we have said 
before, we must see whether it can be shown from 
the rest of his conduct, that he had the virtue of 
humility in the heroic degree. If this be made 
evident from other actions, the doubt will be 
resolved in favour of this act also. 

In a certain suffrage now published, and produced 
in the cause of a certain servant of God, Father 
Mirobal, Theatine, Consultor of the Sacred Congre 
gation, reasoned thus : " Actions of this sort are 
in themselves indifferent, and become corrupt and 
vicious only in their aim, so far as they are done, 
not for the glory of God, but for that of the doer. 
Hence, when the servant of God might have had 
two ends before him in these actions, one good, 
namely, to manifest the works of God in him, the 
other evil, namely, his own excellence above all 
that is called God, it will be matter for considera 
tion what intention and what aim he had before 
him. Certainly there is neither presumption nor 
proof that the servant of God had an evil intention 
and an evil aim. Yea, it is presumed and clearly 
proved, that he had for his aim the greater glory 
of God. For, seeing that in his other actions 
throughout his whole life, he had before him such 
an aim, the presumption is, that he had the same 
in these actions also." To the same effect was the 
suffrage in the same cause of Father Alonso Mier, 
Benedictine, Consultor of the Sacred Congregation: 
" To praise oneself, according to theologians, is an 
indifferent action, the malice or goodness of which 


is determined by the end. Therefore, when the 
servant of God is in possession of the most profound 
humility, conclusively proved in the summary, I 
would ask the most sagacious promoter, why in 
this case does he ascribe it to vanity ? These, and 
similar doings of the servant of God, must be 
referred to the greater glory of God and the good 
of souls, otherwise, we shall be judging rashly." 

In connection with this, it will be profitable to 
consider whether the servant of God in question 
was subject to any fault, and whether those cir 
cumstances were present, which usually accompany 
that fault. For instance, the daughters of vain 
glory are disobedience, boasting, hypocrisy, con 
tention, disagreements, and a temper given to 
novelties, according to S. Thomas.-- If none of 
these, but their contraries, were found in the 
servant of God, that explanation will hold good 
which excludes the vice of vain-glory. To the 
present purpose is what we read of S. Francis of 
Assisi, in F. Bartholomew of Pisa,t and Wad 
ding ; where we find the following passage : 
" People flocked around him S. Francis in 
crowds ; some touched his habit, others vene 
rated the imprints of his feet. They who could 
touch him, or kiss his hands or his feet, counted 
themselves most happy, and showed him every 
possible honour, so that his companion was 
astonished, and the more so, because the saint did 
not repel those who would do him honour. There- 

* 2. 2dre. qu. 132, art. 5. 

t Lib. Conl orrnitat. 
t Annal. Minor, ad. ann. 1212, n. 7. 


upon with a simple boldness he would admonish 
him, that human honours were to be avoided ; 
saying, Father, dost thou not observe what is 
done to thee? dost thou regard this human 
applause ? thou art so far from repelling it, as 
becomes Christian humility, as to seem rather to 
be pleased with it. What is this complacency, 
father, which is so alien to the character of the 
servants of God? The holy father astonished 
him still more by this reply : * Although this 
seems to thee to be a very great honour, know 
thou, nevertheless, that I think it too little, or 
none compared with that which they ought 
to give. At these words his weak companion 
almost trembled, but the humble father, to help 
his weakness, added : * See brother, and under 
stand ; all this reverence I refer to God, I give 
none of it to myself, I appropriate none of it, but 
I preserve myself, and confirm myself the more in 
the dregs of my own humility and vileness, like 
statues of stone or wood, to which due honour is 
offered, yet become neither elevated nor proud, 
but continuing in their own substance, transmit all 
the honour to their prototypes, on whose account 
men worship them. " It is clear to every one, that 
men might reasonably entertain a doubt as to the 
goodness or malice of the act, but the decision was, 
and ought to have been, favourable, in considera 
tion of the other portions of the life of S. Francis, 
and in respect of so many noble instances of heroic 
humility, and the absence of every vice which 
usually accompany pride. 

20. A greater difficulty relates to certain sin- 


gular and unusual actions which are occasionally 
to be met with in examining the causes of the 
servants of God. That influence is suspected by 
which a man is moved to do strange and unusual 
acts. The Divine Providence, indeed, which has ap 
pointed a common way for the salvation of all, de 
creeing that they should observe it, leads all men, 
for the most part, along the plain, straight, and 
usual road. But, as it is clear from the holy Scrip, 
tures, that the spirit of God sometimes moves men 
to do wonderful works, which transcend the ordi 
nary way of working, such an instinct is not at once 
to be condemned. Cardinal Bona* confirms this 
by the example of Abraham, who was commanded 
by God to sacrifice his son ; by the example of 
Isaias, who was commanded to walk naked and 
barefoot through the villages and streets of the 
city ; by the example of Elias, who was inspired 
to call down fire from heaven, by which fifty men 
were consumed ; by the example of Daniel and 
Simeon, who were moved to live on the top of a 
pillar. To these may be added the examples of 
holy women, who concealed their sex, Athanasia, 
Apollinaria, Marina, Fochina, Euphrosyne, Theo 
dora, and Margaret, mentioned by cardinal Frede 
ric Borromeo.f 

When we were speaking of martyrdom, we 
said that some martyrs, by a divine instinct, 
threw themselves for the defence of the faith 
into the burning pile ; and in the same chapter 

* De discret. spirit, c, 7, n. G. 
t De vera ct occult. Sanct. c. 12. 


we related some things full of danger which 
monks were commanded to do by their abbots and 
superiors, inspired by the Divine Spirit ; of whom 
S. Francis of Sales* speaks. But here it will bo 
enough to point out that such an impulse to won 
derful and unusual acts is from God, may be 
known from what follows, and which we will take 
from the work referred to of Cardinal Bona, The 
first is, if it appears from the rest of the life of 
the servant of God, that he was illustrious for 
great sanctity ; also if from the rest of his life it 
appears that he endured patiently all the ills that 
happened to him : also if it may be collected from 
conjectures and outward circumstances, that the 
impulse was so vehement and resistless, as to 
draw and hurry along the heart and mind, of 
which we have a clear example in the conversion 
of the Apostle Paul : lastly, if the servant of God 
enjoy peace and tranquillity after the strange and 
unusual actions. It will bo to the purpose also, if 
there was any supernatural strength beside the unu 
sual action. 

Suarez argues that the command of S. Bene. 
diet to S. Maurus to help S. Placidus, who 
had fallen into the water and was in danger 
of death, proceeded from a divine impulse ; for 
S. Maurus not only rescued S. Placidus, but in 
a manner altogether wonderful, walked on the 
water as on dry laud. 

Iii the Chronicles of the Seraphic Order, 
collected out of S. Bonaventure and other ap- 

* De amore Dei. part. 2, tom. 3, c. 12. 


proved authors, by Peter Damiani Correjo, * 
it is related, that the holy patriarch S. Francis, 
in his last illness in the city of Assisi, dic 
tated a letter to the noble matron, Giacomina 
Settesoli, then living in Rome, in which he begged 
her to come to Assisi before the end of the week, 
if she wished to see him alive, and to bring with 
her certain things necessary for his burial. The 
saint suddenly ceased to dictate, and said that the 
lady was not far from the convent, and had with 
her what was necessary. The event verified his 
words. She arrived immediately, bringing with 
her what was necessary, and, notwithstanding en 
closure, was admitted into the convent, where she 
fell at his feet, and with great demonstrations of 
gratitude and joy consoled S. Francis. In truth, 
if any one weighs well all the circumstances 
of the case, without doubt he will find in it strange 
things, but as the saint, by a heavenly illumina 
tion, knew of the near approach of the lady, and 
as she had been warned in a like manner of the 
approaching death of S. Francis, whatever is 
strange and unusual is not to be regarded as sus 
picious, but may be safely attributed to the spirit 
and inspiration of God. 

Some observations are to be made here on 
certain commands of God, which are at variance 
with the precepts of the decalogue and the law of 
nature. God commanded the Prophet Osce, i. 2. 
" Go, take thce a wife of fornications, and have of 
her children of fornications, for the land by for- 

Tart. 1. Vit. S. Frnncisci. lib. 5, c. 20, 


nication shall depart from the Lord." S. Tho- 
mas* teaches, that Osee, in taking a wife of forni 
cation, or adultery, did not commit adultery or 
fornication himself, for she was his wife, according 
to the commandment of God, who instituted 
matrimony : and he says,t that as Abraham did 
not sin when he was about to slay his son, because 
he obeyed God, so neither did Osee sin, because 
of the divine precept, nor was his conduct pro 
perly fornication, though it has received that 
designation. Other commentators on the holy 
Scriptures explain the commandment to mean, 
that Osee was commanded to marry a woman who 
had been living in sin that she might cease from 
her evil ways, and that her children might be 
legitimate, although, on account of the wickedness 
of their mother, the children were henceforward 
to be called children of fornications. 

In the schools some theologians maintain that 
God can abrogate any particular precept, and, as 
they say, dispense with every precept of the deca 
logue and of the law of nature. Others maintain 
that He can dispense with the precepts of the se 
cond table, not of the first, namely, with those which 
concern our neighbour, but not with those which 
concern Himself. Lastly, others maintain that He 
can dispense with the affirmative precepts of the 
second table, but not with the negative. But be 
this as it may, we readily leave it to be disputed 
in the schools : in relation to our present subject, 
the question is reduced to strange acts, and out of 

* 1, 2djc. qu. 100, art. 8. t 2. 2dac. qu. 154, art. 2. 


the common course, and which occasionally occur 
in the examination of the causes of the servants of 
God : and as to these, the rules already mentioned 
seem sufficient, which may be confirmed also by 
the authority of others. 

Castellini* discussed with reference to the pre 
sent question, the course of a man s life illustrious 
for sanctity, and especially adorned with the virtue 
of humility. So also does S. Francis of Sales.! The 
vehement and resistless impulse is acutely explain 
ed by the venerable servant of God, Lewis a Ponte, 
in his work called the Spiritual Guide, i Finally, 
the peace and tranquillity which abide in the ser 
vant of God, after a strange and unusual action, is 
spoken of by S. Gertrude^ and by S. Francis of 
Sales, who says: " One of the best evidences of the 
goodness of inspirations, and especially of extra 
ordinary ones, is that peace and tranquillity of the 
soul which receives them, because the Holy Ghost 
is truly violent, but with a violence which is gentle, 
sweet, and peaceful." To this may be added the 
success of an unusual work, according to Cardinal 
Borromeo, who after relating the examples of holy 
women who concealed their sex, and the danger 
which other women would be exposed to if they 
were to imitate them, thus speaks : " But as the 
divine Majesty willed those things to be done, it 
knows how to dispose all things, and prepare them 
without loss or hindrance, that it may easily 
appear that the act was divine, and not human." 

* De Inquisit, Mirac. in. canoniz. Martyr, p. 34. 

t Loc. cit. c. 13. tJ art 1, tr. 1, c, 23, II 5. 

2 Divin. Insinuat. Pictat. lib. 4, c. 13, p. 500. 




1. THE theological division of grace, into grace 
tliat makes men pleasing to God, gratam faciens, 
and grace which is a special gift, gratis data, 
is well known. Grace, gratum faciens is a 
supernatural gift freely given by God, primarily 
and of itself tending to the proper and spiritual 
salvation of every one ; by which a man is ren 
dered pleasing and acceptable to God, whether 
formally, as they speak in the schools, if it be 
habitual sanctifying grace, or in the way of dis 
posing and preparing, if it be actual grace. Grace 
gratis data is also a supernatural gift, freely 
given by God, which does not of itself make him 
who receives it pleasing to God, but is chiefly di 
rected to the profit of others. The first among 
theologians who thus distinguished between grace 
and grace was Alexander of Hales,* whom S. Tho 
mas followed :f " Grace is of two kinds : one 
by which a man is united to God, which is called 
grace gratum faciens. The other is that by which 
one man co-operates with another to this end, 
that he may be brought back to God. This gift 
is called grace gratis data, because it is bestowed 
upon man beyond the powers of nature and per 
sonal merits. But because it is not given for 

* 2. part. qu. 73. t I. - ate. qu. 1 1 1, art, 1. 


this end, that he who receives it may be justified 
by it, but rather that he may co-operate in the 
justification of another ; it is, therefore, not called 
grace gratumfaciens. The same question is rightly 
discussed by Viguier.* 

2. The holy doctor inquires whether grace 
gratis data be of higher dignity than grace 
gratum faciens, and thus replies to the ques 
tion : "I answer, that every virtue is so much the 
more excellent as it is directed to a higher good. 
For the end is always better than the means. 
Grace gratum faciens directs a man immedi 
ately to union with his ultimate end : but grace 
gratis data directs men to certain preparatory 
steps towards their ultimate end ; as by prophecy 
and miracles, and other things of this kind, men 
are led to this, that they may be united to their 
ultimate end, and, therefore, grace gratumfaciens 
is more excellent than grace gratis data. 

3. Graces gratis datce are enumerated by the 
Apostle, 1 Cor. xii. 4. : " Now there are diversi 
ties of graces, but the same spirit : and there are 

. diversities of ministries, but the same Lord ; and 
there are diversities of operations, but the same 
God, who worketh all in all ; and the manifesta 
tion of the spirit is given to every man unto pro 
fit. To one by the Spirit is given the word of 
wisdom ; and to another the word of knowledge, 
according to the same Spirit ; to another, faith in 
the same Spirit ; to another, the grace of healing 
in one Spirit ; to another, the working of miracles ; 

* Jnst. Thcol. tit, de^ratia. divina. c. 9, 5 1. 


to another, prophecy ; to another, the discerning 
of spirit ; to another, diverse kinds of tongues ; to 
another, interpretation of speeches." And v. 27, 
he adds : " Now you are the body of Christ, and 
members of member." Then recounting the 
ministrations and operations of members of the 
Church, he says, v. 28. " And God indeed hath 
set some in the Church, first, apostles, secondly, 
prophets, thirdly, doctors ; after that miracles, 
then the graces of healings, helps, governments, 
kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches." 

4. These last agree with the first, excepting the 
Apostolate. It seems, therefore, to be a question 
why the Apostolate is not enumerated with the 
graces gratis dates, and also the priesthood and 
the other holy orders, for all these are from God, 
and given for the benefit of others. The answer 
is, that these are gifts of God, and bestowed for 
the benefit of others, but are not called graces 
gratis datce, because it is of the essence of grace 
gratis data to be sensible and evident in its 
effects. Wherefore Theodoret says on those words 
of S. Paul : " * the manifestation of the spirit is 
given to every man unto profit : he does not say 
the grace, but the manifestation. For grace is 
given even now to those who are worthy of most 
holy baptism, but not visibly. Then indeed they 
at once spoke with divers tongues, and wrought 
miracles, and were thereby confirmed and instruc 
ted in the truth of the doctrine." With him 
agrees S. John Chrysostom."* "Calling graces 

* Tom. 10, p. 258, horn. 2!), in 1. Corinth. 


or gifts the manifestation of the spirit. For the 
Apostles received this first sign, the faithful also 
received the gift of tongues, and not that only, 
but many others also, for many of them raised 
the dead, and expelled devils," The whole sub 
ject is explained at length by Cardinal de Lau- 
rsea,* where he gives this definition of grace 
gratis data. "It is a supernatural gift bestow 
ed upon man without respect to his merits, not 
of itself making him who receives it pleasing to 
God, principally directed to the benefit of the 
Church, making manifest by some outward sign 
that the Holy Ghost is working by it." 

5. Graces gratis datce are common to sinners 
and just men, according to the words of the 
Apostle, 1 Corinth, xiii. 1.: " If I speak with the 
tongues of men and of angels, and if I should have 
prophecy, and if I should have all faith, so that I 
could remove mountains, and have not charity, 
1 am nothing." We read to the same effect in 
the gospel of S. Matthew, vii. 22, " Many will say 
to me in that day ; Lord, Lord, have not we pro 
phesied in Thy name, and cast out devils in Thy 
name, and done many miracles in Thy name ? 
And then I will confess unto them, I never knew 
you, depart from Me, you that work iniquity." 
The account of the whole matter is this, that 
works relating to graces gratis data?, do not in 
themselves belong to the will, and do not require 
it to be right ; and as, therefore, they do not 
depend upon grace gratum faciens, they may be 

* 3. sent. Tom. 4, disp. li>, art. I & 2. 


separated from it, and if God will it, may be 
done by sinners. Neither is there any inconsis 
tency or impropriety in this, as Suarcz* correctly 
argues, and Viguier,f who thus writes : " Grace 
gratis data differs from grace gratum facicns, firstly, 
because it may exist with mortal sin, and in the 
absence of charity. But grace gratum faciens 
cannot exist with mortal or original sin, nor with 
out charity, for this involves a contradiction, that 
a man may be pleasing, and yet hated, which 
results from mortal sin," 

From this a way is opened to two questions : 
the first, whether in the process of beatification 
and canonization, any account is to bo made of 
graces gratis data?, if it appear that a servant 
of God was endowed with them : the second, 
if they be absent, whether any further progress 
is to be made in the cause of that servant of God, 
in which they do not appear. 

6. Beginning, then, with the first question, the 
answer to which seems at first sight to be, that 
no account is to be made of grace gratis data 
in the causes of the servants of God whose beati 
fication and canonization is under discussion, al 
though they may have been endowed with it 
during their lifetime. For the sentence of beati 
fication and canonization is a sentence of holiness, 
innocency of life, and of heroic virtues, with 
which, as wo have said, grace gratis data has 
nothing in common. Wherefore on the text of 

* Tom, 1. Do gratia. Prolog, n, c. 4, n. in, 
t Loc. eit. 


S. Matthew, cited above, S. Gregory** and IS. 
Jeromef thus speak : the former : " What arc 
we to understand by these words ? ought they not 
also to venerate the signs of virtues ? Hence 
it is that the Church despises the miracles of 
heretics, if any there be, because it does not 
acknowledge these as a proof sanctity. The test 
of sanctity is not to perform miracles, but to love 
every one as oneself, to have true thoughts of God, 
and better thoughts of our neighbour than of our 
selves ; because true virtue consists in love, not 
in the exhibition of a miracle." S. Jerome : " To 
prophesy, and work miracles, and drive out devils, 
sometimes does not result from the merits of 
him who works, but rather the invocation of the 
name of Christ does this... that although men 
may despise those who do these wonders, yet let 
them honour God, at the invocation of Whose 
name such miracles are wrought." 

7, But this notwithstanding, we must say, that 
graces gratis datce must be taken into account 
in the process of beatification and canonization, 
if there be proof, beside these, of virtues in the 
heroic degree, and of the innocence of the life 
of the servant of God. The presence of virtues 
makes it clear, that these were not given only 
for the benefit of others, but in testimony also 
of the sanctity of the servant of God who was 
endowed with them : and the more so, for al 
though graces gratis datce do not in themselves 
make a man pleasing to God, nevertheless they 

* Moral. 20. c. ?. f Tom. 7, col. -II. 


effect that accidentally, and, as we say, in the 
way of disposition, according to the words of the 
Apostle, Rom. iii. 28 : " And we know that to 
them that love God, all things work together unto 
good ;" and as it is said in Proverbs, xvi. 4. : 
""The Lord hath made all things for Himself." 
This is the general opinion of writers on the sub 

The Fathers of Salamanca* say, "Because it 
cannot be denied that virtues greatly dispose 
towards, and assist the bestowal of the aforesaid 
graces, they are, therefore, for the most part 
given, not to sinners, but to the just : and in the 
canonization of saints stand in the next place after 
the virtues." Mattat says they are to be taken 
into account in the process of canonization, "as 
often as there is full proof of works of piety, of 
heroic virtues, and of the innocency of life of 
that servant of God of whom such things are 
said." Matth8eucci,t after showing that no gift 
of graces gratis datce is adapted for furnishing 
proof of the holiness of life and merits of any 
servants of God, thus concludes: "But then it 
will be a sign of singular favour and divine love, 
and given in consideration of his life, and to make 
known his sanctity, if there be proof of the moral 
and theological virtues in the heroic degree." 

Scacchus^ says of graces gratis datce, " Though 
not directly, yet indirectly, an argument in favour 

* Curs. Theolog. Tom. 3, in arbore pradicamentali, 17, n. 104. 

t De canoniz. SS. part. 3, c. 24, n. 5. 
t Pract. Theologo. Canon, tit. C, c 6, n. 9. 
De not. et signis Sanctit. S, c. 3, p..G09. 


of sanctity is thence derived, if the virtues were 
heroic." Lezana* excellently observes ; that dili 
gent enquiry is made about them in the Congre 
gation of Sacred Rites, when the beatification 
and canonization of the servants of God is under 
discussion, and that they help to prove sanctity, 
and so, canonization, if the servants of God who 
were endowed with them, were illustrious for their 
heroic virtues. Lezana speaks also of the prac 
tice of the Apostolic See, derived from the Bulls 
of canonization and the Reports of the Auditors 
of the Rota, which we shall make evident here 
after, when we speak of every grace gratis data 
separately, and also when we treat of prophecy, 
ecstacies, and raptures. 

8. With reference to what we have hitherto 
said, there is no great difference between the 
promoter of the faith and the postulators of 
causes. For though the promoters of the faith 
in their observations frequently and we too 
have done the same when we held that office in 
sisted in opposition, that the inquiry must relate 
to heroic virtues, and that no importance is to 
be attached to graces gratis datce ; the postulators 
nevertheless replied, that those graces, not alone 
and separate, but in connexion with heroic virtues, 
were useful in making evidence of sanctity. The 
promoters of the faith have not been unwilling 
to discuss the subject of graces gratis datce, 
and the Sacred Congregation decides upon them, 
not indeed by means of a doubt, distinct from 

* Sum. Theol. Sacr. Tom. 3, tr. 4, disp. 4, qu. 1, p. 356. 


that relating to the virtues, but by the same ; 
no mention, however, is made in the doubt or in 
the answer to it, of graces gratis datce, but they 
arc considered during the discussion of the cause 
as presumptive evidence of heroic virtues, that 
is, the cardinal and theological virtues, with re 
spect to which a most exact and rigid investiga 
tion takes place in the causes of confessors, as is 
manifest from what we have said in other places. 

9. The dispute, then, between the promoters of 
the faith and the postulators, belongs to the 
second question, namely, whether any further 
steps are to bo taken in the cause of a servant 
of God in which there is no evidence of his having 
been endowed with graces gratis datce. To make 
it clear by an example, let us suppose the case 
of a servant of God of heroic virtue, of which 
there is sufficient proof : let us also suppose that 
there is in the processes no traces of grace gratis 
data: he neither prophesied, nor had the gift of 
tongues, nor the interpretation of speeches, he 
had no ecstacies or raptures, in one word, he had 
no grace gratis data. Under these circumstances 
the question is, whether it is safe to pronounce 
upon his virtues, so as to proceed to the examina 
tion of miracles subsequent to his death, and 
after approving of these, to his beatification and 
then to his canonization : or whether the doubt 
about virtues is to be left unsolved, silence im 
posed on the cause, without permission to pro 
pose a subsequent doubt on the miracles wrought 
by God upon his intercession after death. It is 
not lawful, as we have already said, to leave un- 


determined the doubt on the virtues, that, in the 
mean time the miracles may be inquired into : 
but the doubt on the virtues must be decided 
before the examination of the miracles can be 
entered upon, as we have seen before.*"" 

10. The Fathers of Salamanca, in the place 
already referred to, after showing that graces 
gratis datce are to be taken into account after the 
virtues, add; "But because they are not neces 
sary for the attainment of blessedness, so the 
absence of them does not show the absence of 
sanctity." Matthseucci also says, that beside 
heroic virtues, the promoters of the faith are ac 
customed to require, for the sake of greater pre 
caution, some grace gratis data. I confess that 
when I was promoter of the faith, I did not omit 
to make that observation. I did so in the cause 
of S. Vincent of Paul, and the prudent pos tula- 
tors replied, that graces gratis datce were not ne 
cessary in order to form a safe judgment on his 
virtues, some, however, of them were not wanting 
in the servant of God. These are their words : 
" Although graces gratis data; are not necessary 
to prove heroicity of virtues, and therefore it is 
not necessary that S. Vincent of Paul should have 
been endowed with them in order to perceive 
that he had attained to heroicity ; but, however, 
we will bring forward many matters of moment, 
from which it may be inferred that the servant 
of God was possessed of those gifts which are now 
the subject of discussion." 

* Lib. 1, C. 27. 


The same thing took place in the cause of 
blessed Alexander Sauli, when the postulators 
undertook to prove that he had been endowed 
with some graces gratis data, but they added, that 
they did not admit their necessity after proof of 
heroic virtues. " But we do not allow," they said, 
" that if there were none, there would be any failure 
in what is necessary for a decision upon the vir 
tues of the servants of God." Also in the cause 
of S. Camillas de Lellis, when I said, as promoter 
of the faith, that graces gratis dates, which the 
Congregation of Sacred Rites requires in the 
second degree, in the doubt upon virtues, were not 
proved, the postulators of the cause replied as 
follows : " We decline to dispute, whether the 
existence of these gifts, at least, secondarily, are 
necessary for those who are to be canonized. Let 
those look to it who promote causes in which they 
are wanting. We readily accept the condition, 
and allow the opinion of the reverend promoter : 
because in point of fact there is nothing more 
certain than that the venerable Camillus was 
adorned, not with one kind of grace only, as the 
Apostle says, but with many." 

11. From what wo have hitherto said, it must 
be clear to every one that the question before 
us cannot be said to be decided. If, then, my 
opinion, such as it is, were required, I would 
say, that we might proceed with safety in 
the cause of a servant of God, that is, to 
the discussion of miracles after death, if 
lawful proofs were produced of the heroicity 
of the virtues, although none were produced of 


any grace gratis data. For, as we have said 
before, virtues, and miracles after death, are the 
only two substantial requisites for pronouncing 
a sentence of beatification and canonization. 
This, too, we gather from the text in the canon 
law,* where Honorius III. thus speaks : " We 
command your discretion to take care that the 
witnesses be singly examined, whom the abbot 
and monks of S. Martin of the Cistercian order 
have thought fit to produce, on the subject of 
the life and miracles of the abbot M., of that 
monastery, of pious memory." The same Hono 
rius, in the Bull of canonization! of William, 
archbishop of Bourges, thus speaks : " We issued 
our commands that, as works of piety during life, 
and miracles after death, are necessary to con 
stitute sanctity in the Church militant though 
works alone are sufficient for the sanctity of the 
soul in the Church triumphant they should 
make a diligent inquiry concerning both, and, 
having reduced faithfully to writing what they 
found, transmit the same under seal to us, that 
we might be informed of their report, and so pro 
ceed, our Lord inspiring us, the more securely 
in the matter." Gregory IX. proceeded in the 
same way in the Bull of canonizationj of S. 
Antony of Padua, in which he thus speaks : " Al 
though, to constitute sanctity before God in the 
Church triumphant, final perseverance alone is 
sufficient, according to the words, Be faithful 

* Cap. Venerabili, 52, de test, ct attest, 
t Cod. Canon, p. Go. \ Cod Canoii. p. (iii 


unto death, and I will give thee the crown of 
life ; nevertheless, to constitute sanctity before 
men in the Church militant, two things are 
necessary, virtue of life, and truth of signs, 
that is, merits and miracles ; both these mutually 
testify to each other, for neither merits without 
miracles, nor miracles without merits, are a 
sufficient testimony to sanctity before men. But 
when sound merits precede, and illustrious mira 
cles succeed, they afford certain indications of 
sanctity, which lead us to venerate him whom 
God, by merits going before, and miracles 
following, shows us ought to be venerated." 
Wherefore, the author of a tract on canonization, 
addressed to the Cardinal of Monreale, in which 
he speaks of the examination to be made by 
judges delegate, after citing the most ancient 
professors of canon law in the commentaries on 
the text just referred to, namely, Ancharanus, 
Felinus, Bellamera, Imola, Zabarella, Butrius, 
thus concludes, " The examination ought to re 
late to two points, life and miracles." 

12. Suarez adds, that graces gratis datce are 
bestowed on the just, though not upon all, be 
cause it is not necessary for the general good 
of the Church that all the just should minister 
to others, or that they should be raised up by 
a special grace to work for the good of others, 
as may be seen in the place referred to, where 
he alleges the illustrious authority of S. Augus 
tine, who says, "These are not given to all 
the saints, lest the weak should be deceived in 
a most fatal error, thinking that greater blessings 


consist in them than in works of justice, by 
which eternal life is obtained." It seems, then, 
to be a good conclusion to draw from this, that 
silence is not to be imposed on the cause of a 
servant of God, in which graces gratis data 
are not proved, provided there be proof of virtues 
in the heroic degree. Therefore, S. John Chry- 
sostom,* after saying that it was necessary to 
bestow them when the preaching of the gospel 
commenced, thus continues : " Let us fear, then, 
beloved brethren, and bestow great pains on the 
ordering of our life ; and let us not think that 
we have less, because now we do no miracles. 
We shall receive no more on account of miracles, 
as we shall not receive less because we perform 
none, if we apply ourselves to all virtues. We 
are not debtors to miracles, but for a good life 
and good works we have God for our debtor." 
And this so much the more, for in no Bull of can- 
onization, or Report of the Auditors of the Rota, 
is omitted the mention of virtues and miracles 
after death ; some speak of graces gratis dates , 
but in others there is profound silence on the 
subject ; from this it may be argued that some 
canonizations have been decreed, although the 
servants of God and the blessed, during their 
lifetime, received no graces gratis data: from 

* Tom, 24, in c. 7, Matth, 




1. THE word of wisdom differs from the word of 
knowledge, as we learn from the already-cited 
words of the Apostle, 1 Cor. xii. 8. "To one 
indeed, by the spirit is given the word of wisdom, 
and to another the word of knowledge, by the 
same spirit." Wherefore S. Augustine* writes: 
" However, where the Apostle says, To one 
indeed, by the spirit, is given the word of wisdom, 
to another, the word of knowledge, by the same 
spirit, he distinguishes between them without 
doubt, though he does not there explain how they 
differ, and how one may be known from the 
other." This he repeats further on.t 

2. S. ThomasJ teaches, that wisdom and know 
ledge are not reckoned among graces gratis data, 
on that account, because they are enumerated 
among the gifts of the Holy Spirit, namely, as the 
mind of man is moved effectually towards the 
things of wisdom and knowledge, but are reckoned 
among graces gratis dates, because they signify a 
certain abundance of wisdom and knowledge, so 
that a man may not only in himself think rightly 
of divine things, but also instruct others and con- 

* De Trinit. lib. 12, c. 14, n. 22, Tom. 8, col. 923. 

t Lib. 13, c. 19, lib. 14. c. 1. 

* 1, 2, qn. 11 1, art, 4. 


viiice the gainsayers. And again,* after repeating 
what he had taught elsewhere, namely, that graces 
gratis datce are bestowed for the benefit of others, 
subjoins: "But that knowledge which a man 
receives from God, cannot be applied to the good 
of another but through the instrumentality of 
speech : and because the Holy Ghost fails in 
nothing which relates to the good of the Church, 
He furnishes the members of the church with 
speech, that he may speak effectually that which 
relates to the grace of speech." Viguier, in the 
place referred to before, speaks to the same effect, 
observing well that the Apostle in these words 
does not include wisdom and knowledge, which 
are the gifts of the Holy Ghost. " The Apostle 
did not say, to one is given wisdom, to another, 
knowledge, to another, faith, but the word of 
wisdom, the word of knowledge, and the word of 
faith. The Apostle is to be understood in this 
way ; To one is given the word of wisdom, that 
is, he is specially moved, and power is given him, 
to use the gift of wisdom, if he be in grace : and 
if he be not, power is given him to abound in speech, 
that he may be able to convince people, by most 
profound reasons, of those things which tend to 
make manifest the things of God. To one is given 
the word of knowledge, that is, he is moved, and 
power is given him to make known, by created 
things, the things of God." 

3. The word of wisdom, then, is the external word 
of Divine things ; by which a man without hu- 

* 2, 2dse. qu, 177, art, 1. 


man study and labour, so discourses of Divine mys 
teries as to make it manifest that the Holy Ghost 
speaks in him, and none may gainsay him, by 
whom unbelievers are converted to, and the faith 
ful confirmed in, the faith. And the word of know 
ledge is nothing else but discourse or speech on 
moral matters, relating to everlasting salvation, 
going forth readily without human study and 
labour, in writing or by word of mouth, where 
by those who hear it, understand that it pro 
ceeds not from human power, but Divine. Tho 
mas Bozio* writes: "Whether the word of 
knowledge be from the Spirit of God, or from hu 
man industry, is ascertained from that effective 
ness and power, by which it comes to pass that the 
hearers are inflamed to undertake the practice of 
the highest and the Christian virtues: and not 
from the elegance and skilfulness of discourse." 

4. This we learn from S. Augustine,t who, 
after reciting the definition of wisdom given by 
Cicero, namely, the knowledge of human and 
divine things, and reflecting afterwards that the 
Apostle distinguishes between wisdom and know 
ledge, says : " But according to this distinction, 
which the Apostle made, when he said, * to one 
is given the word of wisdom, to another the word 
of knowledge, that definition must be divided : 
the knowledge of divine things is properly wis 
dom, and that of human things is properly called 
knowledge, which I have discussed in my thir- 

* De Sign. Eccles. lib. 0, sign 20. c. -3. 
t De Trinit. lib, 14, c. 1, n. 3. 


teenth volume." And then proceeding further, 
to explain of what human things it is the know 
ledge, he thus speaks : " Not attributing to this 
knowledge whatever may be known by man, in 
human affairs, in which there is generally need 
less vanity, and hurtful curiosity, but that only, 
by which most salutary faith, leading to true bless 
edness, is brought forth, nurtured, defended, 
strengthened ; in this knowledge the faithful, 
for the most part, are not mighty, though 
they are generally strong in faith itself. It 
is one thing to know only what a man ought 
to believe in order to attain to a blessed life, 
which is none other than eternal, and another 
to know how this may be of assistance to the 
pious, and be defended against the wicked, what 
the Apostle seems to call by the special designation 
of knowledge." Scacchus* also thus speaks : " By 
the word of wisdom, of which the Apostle speaks, 
Cornelius a Lapide understands the power of ex 
plaining the mysteries of faith, namely, the Trin 
ity, the Incarnation, Predestination, and the like. 
But by the word of knowledge he understands 
the power of explaining those things which relate 
to morals, and human actions, that is, to moral 
philosophy and sacred practical theology. In this 
way S, Augustin distinguishes between knowledge 
and wisdom." 

5. That which we have said of the facility of 
speaking of divine mysteries, and of other moral 
questions, which relate to conduct so as to make 

* De not. et sign. Sanct. 2 8. c. 5. p. 632. 


it manifest that the Holy Spirit speaks in him 
who discourses thereof ; whom no one is able to 
gainsay, by whom unbelievers are converted, the 
faithful are strengthened in the faith, and sinners 
are brought to amend their lives is derived from 
the words of Christ our Lord in Matth. x. 17 : 
"For they will deliver you in councils... and you 
shall be brought before governors and before kings 
for my sake,... but when they shall deliver you up, 
take no thought how, or what to speak,... for it is 
not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father 
that speaketh in you." And again in Luke xxi. 
14 : " Lay it up, therefore, in your hearts, not to 
meditate before how you shall answer ; for I will 
give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your ad 
versaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay." 
Hence the author of the commentary on the 
epistles of S. Paul, among the works of S. Jerome, 
on the words of the Apostle, "To one by the 
Spirit is given the word of wisdom," thus writes : 
" The word of wisdom is to speak wisely, and aptly, 
and reasonably, and to be able to discourse of, 
and teach what he truly knows. He who has of 
the gift of wisdom, speaks without effort of his 
own, and without labour, and as in the case of the 
blessed Stephen, no one is able to resist him ; for 
the good of unbelievers that they may believe, and 
of believers, that they may be confirmed." 

6. The Apostle in 1 Corinth, ii. 1, describes the 
word of wisdom given him by our Lord : " And I, 
brethren, when I came to you, came not in lofti 
ness of speech, or of wisdom ; declaring unto you 
the testimony of Christ. For I judged not myself 


to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, 
and Him crucified. And I was with you in weak 
ness and in fear, and in much trembling ; and my 
speech and my preaching was not in the persuasive 
words of human wisdom ; but in showing of the 
spirit and power, that your faith might not stand 
on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." 
Likewise in the Acts of the Apostles, vi. 10, we 
read that Stephen, chosen to be a deacon, began 
to preach Christ with such vehemence of spirit, 
that the Rabbis, the Cyrenians, the Libertines, the 
Alexandrians, and the Asiatics, disputing with 
him, "were not able to resist the wisdom and the 
spirit that spoke. " To this may be referred that 
sublime sermon on the day of Pentecost, delivered 
without preparation by S. Peter, an unlearned 
fisherman, who proved the truth of the mission 
and divinity of Christ, by arguments out of the 
Psalms, and the prophet Joel, which he had never 
seen ; and that with such a flow of words and 
vigour, as to bring over to the true faith three 
thousand persons. Theodoret, on the words of the 
Apostle : " To one indeed, by the Spirit is given 
the word of wisdom," thus speaks : " He calls the 
word of wisdom not eloquence, but true doctrine, 
of which the divine Apostle had received the grace, 
and the divine John the Evangelist, and the most 
divine Peter, chief of the Apostles, and blessed 
Stephen, the first martyr. For these men who 
were fisherman, earning their bread by manual 
labour, and utterly unlearned, could not have 
preached and written, and, with the greatest effort, 
accomplish what they said and wrote, unless they 
had received true wisdom from the Divine Spirit. 


7, In confirmation of what we have hitherto 
said, namely, of the difference between the word of 
wisdom and the word of knowledge, and their 
qualities, may be added what we find at great 
length in Suarez,* and Cardinal de Laursea,t who 
also observe that these graces gratis data of 
the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge, 
are not bestowed as habits, but by actual motion 
of the Holy Spirit. But, to give some instances 
of this out of the acts of canonization, we read 
thus in the Bull of canonization J of S. Vincent 
Ferrer : " So resplendent was he with grace, so 
abounding in the Holy Spirit, so grave in preach 
ing most striking truths, that he converted to the 
catholic faith a great multitude of Jews most 
learned in their law, and most obstinate in deny 
ing the coming of Christ ; and made many of them 
most powerful preachers of the coming, passion, 
and resurrection of Christ, and ready to die for 
the name of Christ. So powerful was he in speak 
ing, and so solemn, that he filled men who were 
given up to earthly things and to luxury with 
terror of the judgment to come, so that they 
began to despise earthly, and to love heavenly 
things ; and changed the levities and luxuries of 
all into a desire to serve God." 

In the Bull of Canonization^ of S. Lewis Ber- 
trand, we read thus: "He carried away with 
him the souls of his hearers ; his words breathed 
the spirit, not of a man, but of an angel. At 

* De Gratia. Proleg. 3, c. 5, n. 1, et seqq. 

, t 3, Sent, Tom. 4, disp, 19, art. 4et 5. 

t Cod, Canon, p. 177. Cod., Canon, p. 435. 


Mount S. Martha he baptized fifteen thousand In 
dians, who through his preaching were converted 
to the faith. In the island of S. Thomas, the 
heathens in their fury take up stones and threaten 
him with death ; he was warned to flee, but re 
solutely refused, and by the sole power of the 
divine word, brought two hundred of his assail 
ants under subjection to the yoke of Christ." 
Geoffrey* the monk, in his Life of S. Bernard, 
thus speaks : " How soothing, how persuasive, 
and how learned a speech God had given him, 
so that he knew what and when he ought to 
speak, whom to console, whom to entreat, whom 
to exhort, whom to rebuke, they will, to some 
extent, be able to learn who may read his works, 
though in a less degree than those who often 
heard him speak. Grace, in truth, was poured 
abroad on his lips, and his word burnt vehemently 
as a fire, so that even his way of writing, though 
most exact, could not retain all its sweetness 
and fervour. Milk and honey under his tongue, 
nevertheless, in his mouth was a fiery law, ac 
cording to that in the Canticle : " Thy lips are 
as a scarlet lace, and thy speech sweet." 

Of these graces gratis datce the Auditors of the 
Rota, in their Report on the cause of the servant 
of God, Nicholas Fattore, wrote thus : " It is 
ascertained that he was endowed with the word 
of wisdom, because, without human study, divine 
grace working in him, he used to explain with 
the greatest learning and knowledge, divine and 

* Lib. 3, c. 3, n. 7. 


eternal things, which surpass all understanding. 
The word of knowledge is proved from this, that 
he gave the best counsel to those who came to 
him, enlightened the ignorant, gave them many 
instructions how to serve God, and by word and 
conversation directed the conduct of men." They 
have enlarged on this subject in another Report 
in the cause of blessed Julian of S. Augustine. 

S. Thomas* inquires whether the gift of the word 
of wisdom and knowledge belongs also to women, 
and he answers that it does so far as to address 
one in private or a few familiarly, but not to 
the extent of addressing the whole Church ; so 
that if women have the grace of wisdom or know 
ledge, they are to minister it in private, not in 
public teaching. According to the ordinance of 
God, the condition of women is to be subject 
to their husband ; and women are to be silent 
in the church, as we read in Genesis iii., and 
1 Corinth, xiv. Wherefore, S. Paul says in his 
epistle to Timothy, ii. 11, 12: "Let a woman 
learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer 
not a woman to teach." From all this it is 
right to conclude, that the grace of the word of 
wisdom and knowledge does not belong to women 
that they may make a public use of it, and ad 
dress the whole multitude of the faithful on 
matters of faith and salvation. The mother of 
Solomon, as we learn from Proverbs, iv. and xxxi., 
taught him when he was a boy. We read the 
same of Anna, the mother of Samuel, 1 Kings ii., 

* 2. 2dse. qu. 177, art. 2. 


of Abigail, 1 Kings, xxv., and of the woman 
of Thecua, Judith, and Esther ; and some other 
women had no ordinary grace of speech. " Give 
me a well ordered speech in my mouth in the 
presence of the lion," is the prayer of Esther, 
xiv. 13. From all this we learn that the grace 
of the word of wisdom and knowledge belongs to 
women, that in familiar conversation they may 
instruct one or more. 

The Auditors of the Rota, in their Report 
in the cause of S. Teresa, have shown at great 
length that she was endowed by God with 
these graces gratis datcc of the word of wisdom 
and knowledge. Thomas Bozio* has collected 
together a great deal on the subject of the 
word of wisdom and knowledge, and illustrated 
it with many instances of graces gratis dates. 
" But, that we may descend to particulars, from 
which it may be made most evident, that the 
word of wisdom was most efficacious, let us 
bring forward some examples, and let three be 
sufficient, who were in different countries, and 
of different conditions : Francis of Assisi, an 
Italian, Francis Xavier, a Spaniard, Boniface, 
archbishop of Mayenee, an Englishman. The first 
was a deacon, the second a priest, the third a 
bishop. Let the Acts of these be read, and wo 
shall see that they converted an innumerable 
multitude of men from most foul vices, from 
luxury and abandoned courses, to a most holy 
life, to the purity of the Christian law, and to 

De sign. Ecclcs. lib. C, sigra. 20, 21. 


admirable innocence, not by persuasive words of 
human wisdom, but by the efficacious, though 
unrefined word of heavenly knowledge." 

8. The Fathers of Salamanca* refer infused 
knowledge, and rightly so, to the grace gratis 
data of the word of wisdom and knowledge, as 
is plainly evident from their words : " To this 
grace also does that seem to belong, when God 
infuses into some persons knowledge, whether 
natural or supernatural, distinct, however, from 
the gifts of the Holy Ghost, for the instruction 
of others, because such knowledge is not of itself 
connected with grace gratum faciens, and is 
therefore to be referred to graces gratis datce 
In the second book of this work,t we spoke at 
some length of infused knowledge, and of saints 
who had it. But no effectual argument to prove 
sanctity can be derived from it, but still it must 
be taken into consideration in the process of 
beatification and canonization, provided there be 
proof of virtue in the heroic degree. We refrain 
from repeating, to no purpose here, what we 
have already written ; but we shall, notwithstand 
ing, make a few additional observations. 

Theologians say that infused knowledge is two 
fold; one absolutely infused, the other, accidentally. 
Absolutely infused knowledge is that which no 
creature can acquire by natural strength, but is 
impressed on, and caused in, the creature by God 
alone ; and this is said to be absolutely and 

* Curs. Thcol. Tom. 3, arb. prcedicarn. 5 17. 
\ C. 25, n. 8. 


simply in the order of what is divine, and is 
above nature. But knowledge infused acciden 
tally, is that which may be acquired by the 
strength of human abilities, but, in fact, is not 
acquired ; and thus, too, in a certain way, is 
said to be above nature with respect to its origin 
and the manner of its causation. Thomas a 
Jesu* says, that science absolutely infused may 
be communicated by God to men in this life ; 
and he thinks it probable that it was communi 
cated to the most Blessed Virgin, though not 
in the way of habit ; and he thinks it probable, 
too, that it was granted to some most holy men 
in the way of acts. 

Infused science, then, is that which is acquired, 
not by personal labour and ability, but is infused 
solely by imploring the divine assistance into a 
man, who before knew nothing, as S. Thomas 
teaches,! adding, that the infusion of this know 
ledge is to be ascribed to a miracle : " We reply, 
that God made man capable of acquiring wisdom 
and knowledge by natural abilities and study, and, 
therefore, when a man attains to wisdom and know 
ledge in another way than this, it is miraculous." 
This is explained by S. Antoninus, J by illustrations 
drawn from the health of bodies which have been 
infirm, and of souls which have fallen into sin. 
His words are as follows : " For as God heals 
bodies in the ordinary way by means of medi 
cines and the advice of physicians, and souls 
weakened by sin by the spiritual medicines of 

* Tom. 2, lib. 6, c. 3. + 1. 2dae. qu. 113. art. 10. 

t Sura. Theolog. Tom. 3, tit. 5, c. 1, 5 1. 

8 VOL. III. 


sacraments, and through the priests who admin 
ister them ; therefore, he who wishes to be 
healed, ought to provide himself with these reme 
dies, although at times God heals bodily infir 
mities miraculously out of the common course, 
without medicines, and the soul without sacra 
ments. Thus, in the ordinary course, God teaches 
man wisdom by means of instructors, through 
labour, and the exercises of disciples who apply 
themselves to them, although He taught the 
Apostles all truth or all knowledge without hu 
man industry : whence S. Jerome said, what 
the Holy Ghost suggested to them, that is, the 
Apostles, is given to others through daily medi 
tation in the law of the Lord." 

For as man may, by the ministry of the senses, 
the fancy, and the active intellect, cause ideas in 
himself of those things which he wishes to know ; 
he can do that much better without the operation 
of the fancy and the senses. Wherefore God thus 
speaks to Solomon, 3 Kings, iii. 11 : "Thou hast 
asked for thyself wisdom to discern judgment. Be 
hold, I have done for thee according to thy words, 
and have given thee a wise and understanding 
heart, insomuch that there hath been no one like 
thee before, nor shall arise after thee." 

9. Moreover, though the devil cannot infuse 
new ideas into the human mind, or habits of 
knowledge, yet he can make the human under 
standing more subtle and more powerful by a 
better organic disposition, so that there are in 
stances of science or art, acquired by no previous 
study, but attained, too, in a very brief space of 


time by the help of the devil. We read in the 
Life of S. Norbert, in Surius,* and in the great 
Belgic Chronicle, published at Frankfort by Pis- 
torius,f in his collection of German writers : " At 
Nivelle, a girl vexed for a year was brought be 
fore Norbert, and he read the gospel frequently 
over her. But the devil, through the mouth of 
the girl, recited the canticle of canticles from the 
beginning to the end, and then explained it word 
for word in the Roman language, and the whole 
finally in Dutch." Other instances may be found 
in Majolus.J where he treats of writers, and in 
Scacchus,g where he relates that there was at 
Venice a certain Scot, who, by the help of the 
devil, publicly maintained propositions in all the 
sciences, to the great amazement of his hearers, 
and that at Barcelona, a similar case occurred 
in a girl fifteen years of age. 

On this subject, Martin del Rio|| writes as follows: 
" You will perhaps ask whether the devil can teach 
the arts and sciences ? There is no doubt that he 
can if he pleases, and God permits him, namely, 
by speaking and manifesting his own conceptions, 
not only by appearing visibly and speaking to 
man, which S. Thomas denies not, but even by 
internal speaking and suggestion, enlightening 
the understanding. I do not see why this illu 
mination, tending to a bad end, is to be denied 
the devil, for this knowledge is not referable to 

* C. -20. t Tom. 3, p. 149. 

t De diebus Canicul. torn. 1, p. r>96. De not. et sign, sanct. ? 8, c. 5. 
li Disquis. Magic, lib. 2, qu. 24, p. 1(JS. 


God, and is not accompanied with true purgation 
of the mind. Wherefore, whether it be called illu 
mination or illusion, or by any other name, as, 
for instance, a naked manifestation of the truth, 
the question is in reality only of names." Hence 
it is that it is not only convenient, but in a 
certain way necessary to explain the marks, by 
which it may be ascertained whether he who 
has acquired any science without labour and 
human industry, has acquired it by the assistance 
of God or the help of the devil. 

10. We may, in the first place, learn from the 
conduct and mode of life of him who possesses 
knowledge, from what spirit his skill and know 
ledge proceeds ; secondly, from the quality of the 
habit, if it be not directed towards the service of 
God, the propagation of the Christian faith, and the 
good of his neighbours, it may be suspected to pro 
ceed from the devil ; thirdly, from the application of 
it, if it be directed towards insulting God, to the 
injury of our neighbours, temporal gain, popular 
applause, and the favour of princes, it is all to 
be referred to the devil as its author ; lastly, if 
he who professes this knowledge, has it not al 
together in his own power, but only on certain 
days or hours, and after the performance of cer 
tain ceremonies and superstitious rites, and also, 
if at the time during which he does not speak 
of that knowledge to teach others, he remembers 
nothing of what he has said or taught. These 
are signs of wickedness : " and these are special 
marks" we give the words of Scacchus* " from 

* Loc. cit. p. 306. 


which we may gather, whether some habits of 
knowledge aro infused by God or derived from the 
devil." No wonder, for Tertullian* says, that the 
operation of the devil is the destruction of man, 
and S. Peter Chrysologus,f that " the devil is the 
author of evil, the source of wickedness, the foe 
of all things, and always the enemy of the second 

11. We said that it was convenient, and in a 
certain sense necessary, to give the notes already 
pointed out ; for the integrity of the subject seemed 
to require it. We did not say absolutely neces 
sary, for it is morally impossible that they can 
come under discussion in the Congregation of 
Sacred Rites. Graces gratis data are treated of 
when the doubt on heroic virtues is proposed, and 
these cannot be considered unless a reputation 
for sanctity, legitimately proved, had gone before, 
with which it is inconsistent, that the servant of 
God should have acquired knowledge by the help 
of the devil. In the Congregation of Sacred Rites 
the controversy about infused knowledge is re 
duced to the following points ; whether there is 
proof of this knowledge in a high degree ; whether 
human means had been made use of for its ac 
quirement ; and, lastly, whether it is to be taken 
into account in the process for beatification and 
canonization, as we have said before. 

12. In the second book of this workj: mention 
was made of some holy men, namely, Bernard, 
Lewis of Toulouse, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaven- 

* Apolog. c. 22. + Serm. 22. * C. 25. n. 9. 


ture, Thomas of Villanova, and the holy women, 
Catherine of Sienna, Teresa, and Rose of Lima, 
who were endowed by God with infused know 
ledge. We shall now give additional illustrations 
out of the acts of past canonizations. 

In the Bull of canonization of S. Didacus* we 
read thus : " In this school namely, of the Holy 
Ghost the man divinely taught, who was other 
wise ignorant and unacquainted with letters, spoke 
in a wonderful way of divine things, and gave 
marvellous explanations, so that most learned 
men who had spent their life in theological 
studies, were beyond measure astonished. It is 
also recorded, and proved on grave testimony, 
that learned and pious men, in familiar communi 
cation with him on abstruse and very difficult 
questions relating to divine things and the salva 
tion of souls, learned fully from him, who was 
ignorant of letters, what they had not been able 
to learn from the great doctors in the most cele 
brated Universities." 

In the cause of the canonization of S. Ignatius 
there was a discussion about his infused know 
ledge, as we learn from the Report of the Auditors 
of the Rota, who have thus written : " The great 
knowledge of spiritual things, which he had in 
writing his Spiritual Exercises. sufficiently 
evident from a perusal of those Exercises. And 
as they are full of piety and holiness, useful and 
salutary for spiritual advancement as Julius III. 
declares in the Apostolic letters in approval of those 

* Cod. Canoniz. p. 231. 


exercises after the sentence of the Inquisitor, the 
Vicar of Rome, and the Master of the Sacred 
Palace and were written at a time when the 
blessed Father was ignorant of letters and un 
learned, we are in truth compelled to admit that 
his knowledge and supernatural light were infused 
rather than acquired." Passing over certain se 
vere criticisms by which some have laboured to 
show that S. Ignatius was not the author of the 
book of exercises, on which subject the Bollandists* 
have written with great wisdom ; " In that brief but 
nervous commendation of the Spiritual Exercises, 
which is to be found in the Canonical Hours, 
where, after mentioning what our Lord had re 
vealed to the saint at Manresa, the Church recites 
as follows : When he, a man altogether ignorant 
of letters, composed that admirable book of Ex 
ercises, attested by the judgment of the Apostolic 
See and the benefit of all. From this com 
mendation, then, learn what, according to the 
general sense of the Church, is to be held on 
the subject of those three questions : namely, that 
the book was composed by S. Ignatius when ho 
remained at Manresa in 1522." 

Suarezf speaks at great length of this book 
of Spiritual Exercises, and says that S. Francis 
Borgia, a special disciple of S. Ignatius, and a 
noble example of sanctity, petitioned, not Julius 
III. as the Auditors of the Rota are made to 
speak, through the fault, perhaps, of the copyist 

* Act. SS. Tom. 7, Jul. 31, 6, p. 419, n. 55. 
+ De Ilelig. Tom. 4, lib. D, c. 5. 


but Paul III., that it might be examined ; that 
this was done by the Cardinal of Burgos, and 
the Bishop of Saluzzo, his vicar-general, and 
Egidio Foscarari, Master of the Sacred Palace ; 
they reported that it was a book full of piety 
arid holiness, and very profitable for the edifica 
tion and spiritual progress of the faithful, and 
thereupon it was approved and confirmed by 
Apostolic letters, and sanctioned by an Apostolic 

The cause of the canonization of Blessed Julian 
of S. Augustine is still before the Congregation 
of Sacred Rites. The Auditors have made a Re 
port in the cause, wherein we find that he was re 
ceived as a lay-brother of his Order, having never 
learned Latin, but was utterly ignorant and unac 
quainted with letters : then it follows, how, having 
met a certain stranger, he began to speak of di 
vine things, and to refute heresies with so much 
learning and acuteness, that learned men and doc 
tors could not speak better or with greater gravity; 
and when theologians disputed about grace and 
original sin, he so resolved, that no Professor could 
have given more appropriate answers : hence it is 
concluded that there can be no doubt as to his 
infused knowledge. 

13. If any one desires more, namely, of other 
saints who have been endowed with infused know 
ledge, let him turn to Bagatta s* work, where he 
will find many instances of saints, both men and 
women. We read of the virgin S. Catherine of 

* De Admir. Orb. Christani. Tom. 1, p. 170, 172. 


Alexandria, that learned men were brought toge 
ther from all quarters at the instance of Maximi- 
nus, who promised them large gifts if they con 
vinced her, and brought her from the faith of 
Christ to the worship of idols. The event was 
otherwise ; for many philosophers who had come 
to dispute with her, were, through the power and 
acuteness of her disputation, inflamed with the 
love of Jesus Christ so that they were ready to 
die for Him. The emperor Maximinus, by bland 
ishments and promises, in vain attempted to lead 
her astray, and after much torturing commanded 
her to be beheaded. Cardinal Baronius* refers 
this not only to acquired knowledge, but also to 
infused knowledge : " It is altogether correct to 
suppose that Maximinus endeavoured to withdraw 
her, whom he knew to be most learned, from the 
Christian religion, by means of heathen philoso 
phers, who abounded in the city of Alexandria, 
and that she refuted them all by the learning with 
which she was wonderfully gifted, as well as with 
the wisdom with which she was divinely inspired." 
We know that there is a great question concern 
ing the acts of this S. Catherine : she was said to 
have suffered martyrdom in the reign of Maxen- 
tius, as Galesini considers in his notes on the 
Martyrology, and that Maximinus was substituted 
for Maxentius, as Cardinal Baronius observes in 
his Notes on the Roman Martyrology, Nov. 25. 
We know, too, that Cardinal Baronius took the 
account of the disputation of S. Catherine from 

* Ad. ann. 307, n. 32. 


Eusebius,* according to the version of Christo- 
pliorson. But this is not satisfactory to Pape- 
broke, as appears from the Ephemerides Grseco- 
Moschae, prefixed to the first volume of May, nor 
to Pagi the elder, in his notes upon Baronius.t 
We know, too, that the whole question has been 
taken up by Papebroke, in his reply to the mis 
takes objected to him by Father Sebastian of S. 
Paul, in the eleventh answer. But as it is not our 
object to give an opinion on this question, we 
have related the history out of the Roman Bre 
viary ; namely, that we may learn therefrom that 
knowledge, together with acquired knowledge, 
may be found in a servant of God, and that in 
fused knowledge may be proved from this, that 
the knowledge transcended the limits of ac 
quired knowledge ; in one word, that she did that 
which could not have been done through acquired 

14. There is a certain art, called notoria, by 
which, after certain prayers and other ceremonies 
having a show of piety, men learn at once all the 
liberal sciences. S. Thomasj: speaks of it, and 
pronounces it unlawful and ineffectual. Among 
the Colloquies of Erasmus^ is one, called Ars noto- 
ria, of which he speaks as follows : " I hear there 
is a certain Ars notoria, by which a man may 
learn with very little trouble all the liberal sci 
ences. Have you seen the book ? I have, but 
only that there was no necessity for a teacher. 

*Lib. 8, c. 27. t Ad. an. 307, n. 10. 

t 2. 2das. qu. 90, art. I . Tom, 1 , col 894. 


What were the contents of the book? Various 
forms of animals, of dragons, lions, leopards, and 
various circles, and certain words written therein, 
partly Greek, partly Latin, partly Hebrew, and 
others of barbaric dialects. In how many days did 
the title-page promise the knowledge of all sci 
ences ? In fourteen. Do you know any one who 
has become learned thereby? No, nor has any 
one else seen, nor ever will see one, till we shall 
see a man grow rich by alchemy." And in con 
clusion, " I know no other art of knowledge than 
care, love, and assiduity." Thiers,* after quoting 
the testimony of Erasmus, concludes, that experi 
ence alone is fatal to this art notoria, without 
reference to what may be theologically urged 
against it. 



1. The faith which the Apostle mentions among 
the graces gratis datce is, according to some, a 
most certain assent to the principles of the Catho 
lic faith, which is to be presumed in an evangeli 
cal doctor. This seems to be the opinion of S. 
Thomas,! who thus speaks of faith, as it is a grace 
(jratis data. " It is fitting that he who has to in- 

* De Superstit. Tom. 1, part. 1, lib, 4, c. 2. 
+ 1, 2de. qu. Ill, art. 4. 


struct another in any science, that the principles 
of that science should be most certain to him ; 
and as to this, we have faith, which is an assur 
ance of invisible things which are presupposed as 
principles in Catholic doctrine." He then pro 
poses an objection, that faith cannot be reckoned 
among the graces gratis data?, because it is grace 
gratum faciens : " Grace gratis data is contradistin 
guished from grace gratum faciens ; but faith per 
tains to grace gratum faciens, because we are jus 
tified by it, as it is written, Rom, v. 1, Being 
justified, therefore, bj faith, it is not therefore 
proper to place faith among graces gratis dates, es 
pecially when other virtues are not placed among 
them, as hope and charity." He thus replies to 
the objection : " Faith is not reckoned among 
graces gratis datce, as it is a certain virtue which 
justifies a man, but as it imparts a certain pre 
eminent certainty of faith, by which a man be 
comes capable of teaching others those things 
which belong to faith. But hope and charity be 
long to the appetitive faculty, as man is thereby 
directed towards God." 

2. Others think faith, as a grace gratis data, 
is the faith of miracles, of which the Apostlo 
speaks, 1 Cor. xiii. 2 : " If I should have all faith, 
so that I could remove mountains ;" for as this 
faith of miracles cannot be grace gratum faciens, 
it must by consequence be said to be grace gratis 
data. This opinion, too, rests on the doctrine of 
S. Thomas,* who proposes the question, whether 

* 2, 2de, qu. 178. 


thero be a grace gratis data, for performing 
miracles ; and having resolved it in the affirmative, 
in the fifth he brings forward this argument: 
" The working of miracles is a consequence of the 
faith of him who works, as it is written, If I should 
have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, 
or even of others, for whose sake the miracles are 
wrought, where it is said Matth. xiii., 4 And He 
wrought not many miracles there, because of their 
unbelief, If, then, faith be a grace gratis data, 
it is superfluous to have another grace gratis 
data, the working of miracles." To this objection 
he replies as follows : " The working of miracles is 
attributed to faith for two reasons ; the first is, 
because it is ordered towards the confirmation of 
faith, the second is, because it proceeds from the 
omnipotence of God, on Whom faith rests ; and 
yet, as the grace of speaking is necessary over and 
above the grace of faith, for the instruction of 
faith, so also is the working of miracles necessary 
for the confirmation of faith." 

3. Some understand by faith, constancy in faith. 
Others understand by this grace of faith, not a 
simple assent of faith, and a certain inward, and 
as they say an intensive certainty of it, but an 
extending perfection of the knowledge of faith, as 
to the manner of conceiving, persuading, and 
maintaining it, not only before a tyrant who 
impugns it, but also as often as occasion offers 
itself of confessing the faith, and proposing in a 
higher way especially for the good of others. 
Finally, others say that faith, as a grace gratis 
data, is to be explained of the faith of private 


revelations, which are often vouchsafed to some 
persons for the general good of the Church ; such 
revelations, indeed, belong to some faith, at least, 
private faith, which it cannot be, unless it be a 
grace gratis data. 

4. This may be read at length in Suarez.* 
Cardinal de Laurseat teaches, first, that faith, as 
it is a grace gratis data, is not a scientific 
habit or skill, by which a man may teach others 
the faith ; because either it is acquired by labour 
and study, and cannot be a grace gratis data, 
or it is acquired without labour and study, and 
then it will be a grace gratis data, not, however, 
of faith, but of the word of knowledge or wisdom, 
according to what we have said above. Secondly, 
he teaches that faith, as it is a grace gratis 
data, is not the firm assent which is given to 
matters of faith ; for this has no reference to the 
good of others, but to his who has it. Thirdly, he 
teaches that faith, which the Apostle places 
among graces gratis dates, does not consist in 
private revelations which God makes to particular 
persons : for those revelations are not the mani 
festation of the spirit for the good of others, as 
must be the case with a grace gratis data. 
Fourthly, he teaches it to be extremely probable 
that faith, as it is a grace gratis data, is that 
fervour and constancy of faith which martyrs show 
in the presence of tyrants ; as it is written, Acts v. 
41 : " And they, indeed, went from the presence 

* De Grat. Tom. 1, Prolegom. 3, c. 5, n. 9, et seqq. 
t 3 Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 19, art. c. 


of the council, rejoicing that they were counted 
worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus." 
Out of this constancy great advantage results 
to the Church; innumerable people, beholding the 
constancy of the Apostles and the other martyrs, 
were converted to the faith ; the very guards, 
jailors, and judges, moved by their example, with 
like constancy in witnessing for the truth, endured 
martyrdom. Fifthly, he teaches it to be more 
probable that faith, as a grace gratis data, is 
that by virtue of which miracles are performed, 
namely, through confidence in God to obtain 
them ; and which, therefore, is said to be the faith 
of miracles. 

His eminence proves his proposition by the 
authority of S. John Chrysostom,* who thus writes 
in explanation of those words of the Apostle so 
often cited : " Not speaking of that faith which 
relates to dogma, but the faith of miracles, of 
which Christ said, If you have faith as a grain of 
mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 
remove from hence hither, and it shall remove ; 
this faith it was for which the Apostles prayed 
when they said, Increase our faith, for this is 
the mother of miracles." He proves it also by 
the authority of Theodoret, who, on the same 
place thus writes : "He does not here mean ordi 
nary faith, but that of which he speaks afterwards : 
1 If I should have all faith, so that I could remove 
mountains. On account of the infidelity which then 
prevailed, they wrought many admirable miracles 

* Tom. 10, p. 2G3, horn. 29. 


thereby bringing men to the truth." He then 
explains how this faith is a grace gratis data, 
being a manifestation of the spirit, and profitable 
to the Church ; seeing that many, in consideration 
of it, are converted to the faith, and others are 
confirmed in the faith. He then concludes that 
this grace is an actual movement from God, as by 
the actual help of God, setting habit aside, these 
results may be attained. 

5. According to this explanation, the grace of 
faith is nearly identical with the grace of healing 
and of working miracles. Suarez* says that the 
grace of healing signifies only what the word im 
ports, that is, the marvellous healing of bodily 
diseases ; and the working of miracles includes 
all other marvellous works which are beyond na 
ture, and the object of which are men and sensi 
ble things. The Fathers of Salamancat explain 
it almost in the same way, when speaking of the 
grace of miracles ; " This is distinguished into 
the grace of healing, as when miracles are wrought 
for the relief of our health and life, and into the 
working of miracles, as when they manifest only 
the divine omnipotence, and by that manifestation 
confirm faith." This is also the doctrine of S. 
Thomas,| who proposes the question already men 
tioned, whether there be a grace gratis data for 
performing miracles, and having resolved it in 
the affirmative, in the fourth place urges this 
objection ; the miraculous restoration to health 

* Loc. cit. n. 8. 

t Tom. 3, arb. praedic. virtut. 17, n. IGG. 
t 2. 2dse. qu. 178, art. 1. 


takes place bj divine power, therefore the grace 
of healing ought not to be distinguished from the 
working of miracles ; to which he thus replies : 
"The grace of healing is mentioned separately, 
because thereby some benefit is conferred upon 
man, namely, of bodily health, over and above 
the general benefit which is shown in all mira 
cles, namely, that men may be led to the know 
ledge of God." 

Cardinal de Laurssa* well observes at some 
length that, although the grace of healing is not 
always in holy Scripture distinguished from the 
working of miracles, as it is written, Acts xix. 11, 
"And God wrought by the hand of Paul more 
than common miracles. So that even there 
were brought from his body to the sick handker 
chiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from 
them, and the wicked spirits went out from them" 
nevertheless, the grace of healing is properly a 
faculty by which a person, by the power of God, visi 
bly cures bodily diseases : and the working of mira 
cles is a faculty by which a person, evidently and 
sensibly, performs great miracles which have no 
reference to the cure of bodily diseases. 

6. Passing from this to the others, we say that 
there is the grace of miracles in the Church ; for 
the Holy Spirit furnishes the Church with those 
things which are profitable to salvation. Where 
fore as knowledge divinely received comes to the 
knowledge of others by the gift of tongues, and 
the grace of speech, so by the operation of mira- 

* 3, Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 19, art. 7 et 8. 
9 VOL. in. 


cles it confirms the word spoken that it may 
be believed, as it is written in S. Mark, xvi. 20, 
"and confirming the word with signs that fol 
lowed." Thus S. Thomas.* And Silviusf pro 
ceeds to observe : " God sufficiently furnishes 
the Church with those things which are ne 
cessary to the salvation of His people ; but it 
concerns the salvation of the elect, not only 
that the wholesome doctrine be laid before them, 
whether by the gift of tongues or the grace of 
speech, but also that it be confirmed so as to 
become credible. It is fitting that this confirma 
tion should be effected by miracles, for those who 
see them wrought, see that they are done by God 
alone, and are beyond power of created nature ; 
they are then led by divine help to embrace 
supernatural truth, in confirmation of which they 
are wrought, and they are also strengthened firmly 
to maintain what they have embraced. Therefore 
as the grace of speech is necessary to put the 
faith before infidels, so the working of miracles 
is necessary also for the confirmation of the faith 
recently preached." 

7. This grace of miracles is not anything that 
habitually abides in the soul: for the principle 
of working miracles extends to everything that 
can be done supernaturally, and is therefore no 
thing less than the divine omnipotence, which can 
be communicated to no creature nor to any mere 
man. If, indeed, the power of working miracles 

* Loc. cit. 
f 2. 2dse. S.. Thorn, qu. 178, art. 1, 


were always abiding in those who had the grace 
of miracles, they would be at all times able to 
work miracles when they pleased, which is not 
the case : the Apostles, Matth. xvii. 18, ask, 
"Why could not we cast him out?" Christ re 
plied, "But this kind is not cast out but by 
prayer and fasting." Again, Eliseus could not 
raise up the son of the Sunamitess to life by 
means of his staff, 4 Kings, iv. 31. S. Thomas* 
may be consulted on this subject. Wherefore, 
the grace of miracles consists in this, that when 
God bestows it upon any one, He sometimes 
moves him to do something which issues in a 
wonderful work ; sometimes He makes use instru- 
mentally of contact with anything belonging to such 
a person, sometimes prayer or devout invocation 
of His name, a word, or any other outward sign. 
Thus speaks Silvius. We said that the grace 
of miracles is habitually communicated to no 
mere man : to Christ, indeed, as man, or to His 
humanity, was granted a perpetual and constant 
working of miracles, because He was able of His 
own free will to work miracles, as often as He 
judged it convenient : for this He had the ever- 
ready concurrence of the divinity, although there 
was in His humanity no permanent quality, which 
could be a physical principle of miracles, as is 
well observed by Suarez.f 

8. Suarez adds, that the grace of miracles was 
necessarily abiding and frequent in the early 

* De potentia, qu, 6, art. 4. 
t Tom. 1 de gratia, Proleg. 3, c. 5, n. 17. 


Church: as it is written, Acts v. 12, 14. "And 
by the hands of the Apostles were many signs and 

wonders wrought among the people And the 

multitude of men and women who believed in the 
Lord was much increased." And Mark xvi. " They 
going forth, preached everywhere : the Lord work 
ing withal, and confirming the word with signs that 
followed." Therefore S. Gregory* says; "But 
these things were necessary in the beginning of 
the Church ; that faith might grow, it had to be 
nurtured by miracles." Also that the same grace 
abides at this day in the body of the Church, not 
indeed, in certain and definite persons, but in 
those to whom actual grace is given, when and 
how the Spirit wills. S. Augustine,! after speak 
ing of the miracles of Christ, says : " For even now 
miracles are wrought in His name, whether by 
His Sacraments, or through the prayers or comme 
morations of His Saints." And Thomas Bozio,J 
recounts almost innumerable miracles wrought in 
these times for the propagation of holy religion : 
passing over those of more ancient times, of which 
the holy fathers were eyewitnesses, namely, Iren- 
seus,g Chrysostom, || Hilary,1[ Gregory Nazianzen,** 
Theodorettt and Jerome. JJ 

9. It is the common opinion of theologians, that 
the grace of miracles is a grace gratis data, and 
therefore, that it is given, not only to the just, but 

* Horn 29, torn 1, col. 1571. t De Civit Dei, Lib. 22, c. 8. 

i I De Sign. Eccles. lib. 5, c. 1. sign. 11. lib. 2.De Eseres. c. 66. 
II Serin. 67. f Lib. in Constant. Imper. ** Orat. 18. 

tt Orat. 8, adv. Grsecos. , }t Lib. contra Vigilantium. 


also to sinners : this is maintained by Duval,* Gon- 
zales,t Maioli,J: Theophilus Raynaud, Contelo- 
rius,|| Rocca,H and others. 

In a former chapter iii. 5. we alleged the 
words of our Lord, saying, that He knows not 
those who have done evil, though they may have 
prophesied in His name, cast out devils, and done 
many wonderful works, and also of the Apostle, 
saying, that without charity he was nothing, 
though he might have faith to remove mountains. 
We give now the commentaries of Estius on the 
the passage : " For as it offers no contradiction 
to the Apostle that a man should have the gift of 
tongues or prophecy, or knowledge of mysteries, 
and excel in knowledge, which are first spoken of : 
or be liberal to the poor, or give his body to be 
burned for the name of Christ, which are afterwards 
spoken, and yet not have charity : so also there is 
no contradiction in a man having faith to remove 
mountains, and being without charity." 

13. You will say : if, then, miracles may be 
wrought by sinners, miracles will not be necessary 
to a judgment of beatification of a servant of 
God, and of canonization of the beatified. The 
answer is easy : although the grace of miracles 
is, and may be, conferred at times upon sin- 
ners, generally, however, i t is conferred only on 

* De Suprem. R. P. potest, in Biblioth. Maxim. Pontif. Torn. 3. 
p. 421. 

t In Cap. Audirimus n. 9, de Reliq. et Venerat. SS. 

% Diebus Canicular, tit. Vaticinia, p. 534. 

Opp. Tom. 15, Heterocl. Spirit, n. 12. p, 265. 

II De canoniz. SS. c. 20, n. 5, et seqa. ^ De canon. SS. c. 9. 


the just and the holy, as Suarez* observes ; and 
next, because in the process of beatification and 
canonization there is no examination touching 
miracles, until there is proof obtained of virtues 
in the heroic degree, or of martyrdom : as Scac- 
chus has observed,! and as Arauxo^ has clearly 
explained, whose words are as follows : " Princi 
pally, then, from heroic virtues, but concurrently 
and in the second place from private visions, and 
from miracles wrought at the invocation of his 
name, is derived an effectual proof of his sanctity, 
who is to be enrolled among the Saints, so that 
here becomes true the common saying, what each 
singly cannot do, all together may effect. " 

11. In the first edition of this work we made 
here many other observations about miracles 
which sinners might work. But in the second 
and third edition we thought it more convenient 
to transfer them to the fourth volume, where we 
shall treat of miracles which infidels and heretics 
are said to have wrought : the order and arrange 
ment of the subject seemed to require it. 

* De Gratia, Tom i. Prolegora. 3, c. 4, n. 11. 
t De not. et sign. Sanot. SS. 8, c. 1, p. 569. 
J Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23. n. 14. 




1. PROPHECY is the foreknowledge of future 
events, but it sometimes extends to past events, 
of which there is no recollection nor any certain 
indications ; and to present events distant in 
place and hidden, and to the inward thoughts of 
the heart ; so that he is a prophet who divinely 
knows those things which are removed from sense 
and the natural knowledge of men, and is able make 
them known. Wherefore Matthaeucci* thus des 
cribes the grace gratis data of prophecy : " Pro 
phecy is a grace whereby a man can certainly 
know and make known those things which other 
wise he could not know, without an actual revela 
tion of God under those circumstances in which 
he knows them, whether they be future, past, or 
distant or hidden present things, or the secrets 
of hearts, or inward thoughts." 

Scacchusi proceeds in the same way, and 
with him agrees Martin del Rio,J Philomarinus, 
Torreblanca, || Cardinal Bona,H and Cardinal 
* that prophecy is the foreknowledge of 

* Pract. Theol. Canon, tr. 3, c. 3, art. 2, ; 4, n. 45. 

f De not. et sign. Sanctit. 8, c. 2. 

Disquis. Magic, lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 1. De Revel, tr. 1, c. 1, 5. 

II De Magia. lib. 1, c. 1, de prophet, n. 34 2. 

T I>e Discret. Spirit, c, 17, n. 2, 
** De Verit. Rel. Christ, c. 11, 1. 


some future events, is to be learnt from 1 Peter, 
i. [10, "Of which salvation the prophets have 
inquired and diligently searched, who prophesied 
of the grace to come in you, searching where or 
what manner of time the Spirit of Christ in them 
did signify ; when it foretold those sufferings that 
are in Christ, and the glories that should follow." 
Prophecy extends sometimes to past events of 
which there is no recollection nor certain indica 
tions, as appears from the Gospel of S. John, iv. 
18, where our Saviour says to the Samaritan 
woman, "Thou hast had five husbands, and he 
whom thou now hast is not thy husband." The 
woman answered, " Sir, I perceive that thou art 
a prophet." And going to the city, she cries out, 
" Come and see a man who has told me all things 
whatsoever I have done." 

Lastly, prophecy extends to things present, 
distant in place, and hidden, and to the inward 
thoughts of the heart, as is evident from the his 
tory of the Pharisee, in Luke xii. 39. For when 
the woman who was a sinner had drawn near to 
Jesus, who was sitting at meat in the house of 
the Pharisee, and standing behind at His feet, 
be^an to wash His feet with tears ; the Pharisee 
spoke within himself, saying, " This man, if he 
were a prophet, would know surely who and what 
manner of a woman this is that troubleth Him> 
that she is a sinner." We said, also, that a pro 
phet knows in a divine way ; we read in Isaias, 
xli. 23, " Shew the things that are to come here 
after, and we shall know that ye are gods." And 
in the second epistle of S. Peter, i. 21 ; "For 


prophecy came iiot by the will of man at any 
time, but the holy men of God spoke, inspired 
by the Holy Ghost." To the same effect also is 
the observation of Cassiodorus,* who thus des 
cribes prophecy : " Prophecy is a divine inspira 
tion, which either by acts or words of certain per 
sons announces future events with immoveable 

2. A prophet, then, is he who foretells future 
events, or reveals to others things past, or present 
things hidden ; although generally, and for the 
most part, prophecy is confined to the foretelling 
of future events. S. Thomasf teaches that pro 
phetic knowledge comprises all those things men 
tioned above, and that these are of three kinds : 
one, far removed from the cognizance of one man, 
but not from that of all men ; one man has a 
sensible cognizance of what is present to him, as 
to place but of which another has no human sen 
sible cognizance, because they are distant : the 
second is, of those things which transcend univer 
sally the cognizance of all, not because in their 
own nature they cannot be known, but because of 
the deficiency of human knowledge, as, for in 
stance, the mystery of the most holy Trinity. 
The last is, of those things which are far removed 
from all human cognizance, because in themselves 
they cannot be known, as future contingencies, 
the truth of which is not determinate. He con 
cludes that, because what is universally and sub 
stantially, is better than what is particularly and 

Trcef. Fa. c. I. + :. . 2dse. qu. 171, art. 3. 


accidentally, the revelation of future events, 
specially belongs to prophecy, and alleges the 
words of S. Gregory,* on Ezekiel : " Because, 
then, that is prophecy which announces future 
events ; when it speaks of what is past or present, 
it loses the name of prophecy." The subject is 
discussed at some length by Dominic Gravina,t a 
follower of S. Thomas. 

Father Niccolo Baldelli, of Cortona, a Jesuit 
theologian, who in the Bibliotheca of Writers o^ 
the Society of Jesus is called a man of great 
learning, published two volumes of moral theology, 
the third was ready, and would have been pub 
lished, had he not been prevented by death. In 
his lifetime he was the spiritual director of a cer 
tain Arsilia Altissimi, a widow of Tivoli, who in 
the year 1643 died with a reputation of sanctity. 
After her death Baldelli wrote an account of her 
virtues, and of the graces gratis datce which she 
had received from God. This he addressed to 
Father Mutio Vitelleschi, then General of the 
Jesuits. That account is preserved at Rome 
among the MSS. of the Fathers of the Society, and 
as it was most kindly lent to me by the Fathers 
when I was at Rome, I shall make some extracts 
from it in the words of the author : " We must 
then understand, that although prophecy extends 
to all that can be made manifest by the divine 
light wherein it rests, whether it be some super 
natural ministration, or an event now past, or 

* Lib. J. horn. 1, Tom. 1, col. 1173. 
t Lydius Lapis, lib. 2, c. 25, 


present, or to come, but hidden from him who 
prophesies, as S. Thomas teaches ; and although 
the word to prophesy, which is derived from seeing 
afar off, may be accommodated to all that is seen, 
and that, in itself, cannot be seen, as being far 
from him who sees it, as the same doctor teaches. 
Yet he is specially said to be a prophet who 
understands and foretells future events, and which 
are distant, as regards time. And prophecy, as 
he adds, and S. Gregory, in his first homily on 
Ezekiel, when it speaks of past events, or present, 
though hidden, because they are not far off as 
regards time, loses the name of prophecy." 

3. Prophecy consists in knowledge, and in the 
manifestation of what is known. And knowledge, 
indeed, of its own nature goes before ; for no one 
can speak of anything unless he has knowledge of 
it. But as graces gratis datce are manifestations 
of the Spirit for the profit of others, hence it comes 
to pass, that in prophecy, manifestation must be 
added to knowledge ; according to S. Thomas in 
the place already referred to. Moreover, in the 
estimate of grace gratis data, manifestation must 
be said to be more excellent than knowledge, as 
Cardinal de Laursea* shows at length. According 
to S. Thomasf, as prophecy belongs to the know 
ledge of what is beyond natural reason, it follows 
that prophecy requires a certain intellectual light, 
transcending the natural light of reason, as it is 
written, Mich. vii. 8 : " When I sit in darkness, 

* 3, Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 19, art. 9, 22 I. 
t Loc. cit. art. 2. 


the Lord is my light." Wherefore the knowledge 
of the prophets, if it be considered with reference 
to God, comprises, in a certain way, a divine and 
uncreated action, which is called revelation, or 
the speech of God ; but considered with reference 
to the prophet, that is, so far as it is vitally 
elicited from his intellect through that light, 
and there remains, it is said to be a vision or 
hearing, according to the diverse ways it has 
respect to God as revealing and speaking, which 
is correctly explained by the Fathers of Sala 

4. Moreover, it is necessary for a prophet, in 
order that he may know, that those things which 
he ought to know and manifest to others, should 
be present to his understanding. This represen 
tation may be effected in three ways. Firstly, 
according to the exterior perception of the senses, 
as if the bodily eyes beheld anything, or the ear 
heard, and thence the species of things pass to the 
imagination and the understanding. We have an 
instance of this in Daniel, who saw the writing on 
the wall. Dan. v. 24. Secondly by the inward 
sense, as when nothing outwardly appears some 
thing is represented to the imagination, and thence 
passes into the understanding, whether through 
God infusing into the imagination wholly new 
species of things, the objects of what the eye has 
not seen, nor the ear heard, or disposing in a new 
way what exists already habitually therein, and 
what has been admitted through the senses. We 

* Curs. Theol. Tom. 3, arb. prseiicam. 17, n. 170, 


have an instance of this in Jeremias, who saw a 
boiling caldron from the face of the north. Jerem. 
i. 13. Thirdly, by a representation altogether 
intellectual, when God, without motion or the help 
of the interior or exterior senses, produces in the 
intellect new intelligible species, or modifies and 
disposes the old, which have been received through 
the senses, so that they shall represent intelligible 
truth, without the aid of images in the thoughts, 
as S. Thomas shows at length.* And as know 
ledge is the more perfect the further it is removed 
from the senses, the most perfect kind of prophecy 
is the third, in which there is no communication 
with the senses ; the next to it is the second we 
have mentioned, and the lowest kind of all is that 
which we mentioned in the first place, as S. 
Thomasf proceeds to show. 

The Fathers of Salarnancaj add, that these 
degrees are not to be so distinguished one from 
another, as that in any one of them the know 
ledge of a prophet consists solely in external or 
internal sensations ; but it must always reach to 
a judgment of the understanding ; but are dis 
tinguished so far as that, in the highest, the 
intellectual knowledge does not commence in 
the senses, nor does it depend on them, but 
flows rather from the understanding to the 
senses ; when, in the other two, the knowledge and 
the representation are derived from the senses, 
either from the internal or the external simul- 

* 2. 2dae. qu. 173, art. 2. 
1 2. 2d?e. qu. 174, art. 2, 3. J Loc. cit. n. 171. 


taneously, on which they depend, and from 
which they derive their designation. With this 
agrees Cardinal de Laursea,* who says, that 
God frequently reveals to prophets, by means 
of the angels, what they ought to make known, 
not in a form perceptible to the external sense, 
but by appearances perceptible to the interior 
sense, or the fancy and the imagination, or by 
appearances intelligible to the understanding 
only, and not to the senses. He then adds, if 
the speaking be purely intellectual, and the 
imagination is at rest, the objects ought to be 
come present by intelligible species, otherwise they 
could neither be understood nor known ; and that 
he knew not if it ever happened that God spoke 
immediately Himself by intelligible species alone, 
or by intellectual voice alone, or by angels to 
the prophets, in revealing those things which they 
were to make known. Cardinal Bonat adds, 
that it is still a subject of debate between the 
scholastic and mystic theologians, whether a pure 
intellectual vision, without the intervention of 
images in the thoughts, is, or can be possible 
in this mortal life, 

5. Prophetic revelation is made by means of 
the angels ; for, as it is written, Rom. xiii. 1, 
" Those that are, are ordained of God ;" the 
divine order is that the lowest is disposed by 
intermediaries, and the angels are mediators 
between God and man. Therefore, illuminations 

* 3 Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 19, art. 9, 1 
t De Discret. Spirit, e. 17, n. 3. 


and divine revelations, and so, prophetic know 
ledge, which is effected through illumination and 
divine revelation, are brought to men bj the 
angels, who act therein as the servants of God ; 
and prophetic revelation, though made by their 
ministry, must be pronounced divine, according 
to the same holy doctor.* Hence, in Genesis xvi., 
an angel speaks to Agar ; Genesis xix., angels 
address Lot ; and Genesis xxii. 16., an angel 
speaks to Abraham : " Because thou hast done 
this thing, and hast not spared thy only begotten 
son for my sake, I will bless thee, and will 
multiply thy seed." In Luke, i. 19, the angel 
appeared to Zachary, saying, " I am Gabriel, who 
stand before God, and am sent to speak to thee, 
and to bring thee these good tidings." The same 
Gabriel was sent to the most Blessed Virgin, 
and revealed to her the most deep mysteries of 
the Incarnation and Redemption. Many other 
instances have been collected by Peter John 
Olivarez, in his treatise on prophecy and the 
prophetic spirit. He says, " No one can there 
fore deny there is prophecy which is angelic, and 
that most true. Yea, there are some who believe 
all prophecy to be inspired by means of the 
angels." We have elsewhere made mention of 
Jerome Savonarola, a Dominican ; leaving the 
whole question of his asserted virtues and repu 
tation for sanctity in the state we found it, with 
out giving any opinion thereon, and admitting 
the justice of the sentence by which he was 

* 2. 2dse. qu. 172, art. 2. 


condemned to die. Long after his death a con 
troversy arose on the subject of his writings. A 
book of his on Prophetic Truth was condemned, 
but there is another not at all condemned, which 
is called a Compendium of Revelations, as we 
learn from a preface to his Life, published by 
John Francis Pico, at Paris, in 1764. In the 
Compendium of Revelations,* we find thus : " It 
is to be observed, that God, by the ministry of 
angels, causes these exterior and imaginary 
appearances, as S. Dionysius says in his book 
on the Heavenly Hierarchy, because whatever is 
of God proceeds in order, according to the words 
of the Apostle, what is of God is ordained. 
The order of Divine wisdom is to regulate the 
lowest by means of what is intermediate, and 
what is intermediate by the highest. So, then, 
the angels are mediators between God and men, 
prophetic illuminations are ministered by God 
through the angelic spirits, who not only 
enlighten and move the imagination interiorly 
towards divine appearances, but also from within 
speak to the prophets, to whom also they show 
themselves frequently in human form, foretelling 
future events, and instructing them in many 
things to be done." 

Cardinal de Laurseat says that it is not out 
of the course of things for God Himself to speak 
to the prophet, teaching him what he is to make 
known, namely> by speaking to him, as another 
man would speak to the prophet, or appearing 

* Tom. 1, p. 224. t Loc. cit. 2. 


to him in the form of man ; as it is written, 
Isaias, vi. 1, " I saw the Lord sitting on a throne 
high and elevated... upon it stood the seraphims ; 
the one had six wings, and the other had six 
wings... and I have seen with my eyes the King, 
the Lord of hosts. And one of the seraphims 
flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, 
which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. 
And he touched my mouth, and said, * Behold, 
this hath touched thy lips. And I heard the 
voice of the Lord, saying, Go, and thou shalt say 
to this people. His Eminence admits that God 
usually spoke to the prophets, and even now speaks 
to some through the angels, revealing to them 
what they are to speak and make known, which 
is well discussed by Martin del Rio.* So also 
the Cardinal Torquemada, alleging S. Gregory, 
in his preface to the Revelations of S. Bridget : 
"It must be remembered that God speaks in 
two ways ; either He speaks Himself, or His 
words come to us through the angels. For, un 
less the angels, in speaking to us, assumed for a 
time an aerial body, they could not become visible 
to our outward senses." In the same way proceeds 
Torreblanca :f " God usually breathes His power 
into men by means of an angel, who assumes a 
body, or only a spiritual appearance. But we 
must not, therefore, deny that God can, if He 
wills, directly Himself illuminate the minds of 

* Disquis, Magic, lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 1. c. Solet. 

t.De Magia. lib. 1, c. 1, n. 40. 
10 VOL. in. 


Prophecy may be considered in many ways ; 
either with reference to the illumination, or to the 
object or thing known, or to the means by which 
the representation is made known, or to the way 
in which knowledge is conveyed. With reference 
to the illumination, it is perfect or imperfect ; the 
first is, when not only the matter revealed, 
but also the revelation itself is known, and that it 
is God Who makes it : this only is called abso 
lutely and simply prophecy. The second is that, 
when, although a truth is made known, it is yet 
not so certainly nor sufficiently perceived from 
whom the revelation proceeds, and whether the 
prophetic or the individual spirit speaks : this is 
called the prophetic instinct, wherein it is possi 
ble, because of the manner of it, that a man may 
be deceived. 

With reference to the object, it may be a 
prophecy of denunciation, or foreknowledge, or 
predestination. The first is, when God reveals 
future events, which He knows not in themselves, 
or in an absolute decree, but in the order of 
their own causes, and in conditional decrees, 
which may be hindered from taking effect by 
other decrees which are absolute : wherefore 
the meaning of the revelation is, not that such 
things will absolutely come to pass, but only from 
the influences of causes determinate for that end ; 
in these is involved the condition, unless hindered 
from above, though the prophets do not express it, 
but seem to speak absolutely. The second is that, 
when God reveals future events, depending on 
created free-will, which He sees as things present in 


in eternity. The third is, when He reveals what 
He alone will do, and sees them present in eternity 
and in the absolute decrees. With reference to 
the means or the species by which the objects re 
vealed are represented, prophecy is divided into 
that of the intellect, the imagination, and the 
body, according to our foregoing observations. 
Finally, with reference to the way in which the 
knowledge is conveyed, prophecy is divided into 
that which takes place when the senses are not 
suspended, and this retains the general name of 
prophecy, and that which takes place when they 
are so suspended, this is called rapture, of which 
we shall speak hereafter. 

7. What we have stated in the foregoing sec 
tion may be read in so many words in the work, 
already referred to, of the Fathers of Salamanca, 
who are throughout consistent with what S, Tho 
mas teaches. For he* enquires whether the pro 
phets always knew what they uttered in prophecy, 
and answers, that the true prophets whose minds 
are divinely inspired, not only know what is re 
vealed to them, but also that they are revealed by 
God ; as it is written, 2 Kings, xxiii. 2 : " The 
Spirit of the Lord hath spoken by me." The holy 
Doctor likewise explains that division of prophecy, 
into prophecy of the predestination of God, fore 
knowledge, and denunciation ; and having pro 
posed the question whether prophetic vision al 
ways takes place when the senses are suspended, 
he teaches that there is no suspension of the 

2. 2doe. qu. 173, art. 4. 


senses when any thing is represented to the mind 
of the prophet through sensible species ; nor is it 
necessary that the senses should be suspended 
when the mind of the prophet is illuminated by 
an intelligible light, or formed by intelligible spe 
cies, but it is necessary that the senses should 
be suspended when the revelation is wrought by 
forms of the imagination. 

Suarez* shows at length that the act of prophecy 
ought to be a certain knowledge not only of the mat 
ter revealed, but of Him who reveals, so that he who 
is the subject of it may be able to decide with cer 
tainty that it is God Who is making the revelation, 
and by consequence be able to know what he speaks 
from a divine inspiration, and what he speaks as 
a man ; for no sure and certain decision can be 
attained to on the subject-matter revealed, unless 
we can also with the same certainty and clearness 
decide that it is God Who reveals. Wherefore, 
when the prophets uttered what had been revealed 
to them, they said at the same time that it was 
God Who revealed, as, "Thus saith the Lord," 
or, " The word of the Lord came," or, " In truth 
the Lord hath sent me to you." He adds, that 
this is the case with knowledge truly prophetic, 
but not with that which is said to proceed from 
the prophetic instinct ; for the Holy Ghost may 
sometimes move a man to form a certain decision, 
yet so as not to be certain that he knows that 
the inspiration comes from the Holy Ghost, and 
then, when that decision is not certain, it will not 

* De Fide, disp. 8, 4. 


be true prophecy. Savonarola* also writes of 
that knowledge which k is truly prophetic. " God 
infuses into a prophet a certain supernatural light, 
which is, as it were, a partaking of His eternity. 
Thereby a prophet in the revelations discerns two 
things, that is, that the matter revealed is true, 
and comes from God. So great is the efficacy of 
this light, that it makes the prophet thus cer 
tain ; as the light of nature makes philosophers 
certain of the truth of first principles, and every 
man that two and two are four." Torreblancaf 
is of the same opinion. 

8. The subjects of prophecy are good angels, 
devils, men, women, children, heathens, or Gen 
tiles ; nor is it necessary that a man should bo 
gifted with any particular disposition in order 
to be a subject of prophecy, provided his intellect 
and senses be adapted for making manifest those 
things which God has revealed to him ; though 
moral goodness be most profitable to a prophet, 
yet is it not absolutely necessary in order to 
obtain the gift of prophecy. As to the angels 
this is clear ; for they, by their own natural pene 
tration, cannot foreknow future events which are 
undetermined and uncertain, neither can they 
know the past, which they have not seen them 
selves, and which has left no memorials behind, 
as theologians generally maintain in opposition 
to Durandus, nor the secrets of the heart of ano 
ther, whether man or angel. When, then, God 

*Compend. Kevcl. p. 223. 
t De Magia, lib. 1, c. 1, de prophetic, n. 54, 


reveals to an angel what is future, past, and pre 
sent, that he might manifest it to a man, accord 
ing to what we have written, the angel becomes 
a prophet, Peter John Olivarez, in his Treatise 
on Prophecy and the Prophetic Spirit, has col 
lected many proofs of this out of the sacred text. 
He thus writes : " Wherefore this kind of prophecy 
is more sublime and more excellent than all the 
others : for the nobler prophecy is of the nobler 
creature." As to the devil, though he certainly 
cannot foretell future events, yet nothing hinders 
but God may make use of him to manifest what is 
future, past, and present, though hidden. There 
fore, in Luke viii. 28, that devil, when he saw 
Jesus, fell down before Him, and crying out 
with a loud voice, said, "What have I to do 
with Thee, Jesus, Son of the most High God? 
I beseech Thee, do not torment me." For He 
commanded the unclean spirit to go out of the 

There are instances of women and children in 
the sacred text. Mary the sister of Moses is 
called a prophetess ; Anna, the mother of Samuel, 
was endowed with the gift of prophecy. Eliza 
beth, the mother of John the Baptist, by a revela 
tion from God, recognized and confessed Mary 
the mother of God ; and the four virgin daughters 
of Philip the deacon prophesied. And as to chil 
dren, the child Samuel was called by the Lord, 
and heard from Him what he was to prophesy 
of the destruction of Heli the priest, his chil 
dren, and all his house. Therefore it is written, 
1 Kings, iii. 20 : " And all Israel from Dan to 


Bersabee, knew that Samuel was a faithful pro 
phet of the Lord." And Daniel, who was one 
of the three children whom Nebuchodonosor had 
chosen to be of his household, received from God the 
understanding of visions and dreams, and de 
clared to the king his vision and his dream. Also 
Balaam, who was a heathen, when Balac the king 
asked him to curse the people of Israel, refused 
to do so, and blessed them ; and when the king 
complained of his blessing them, said, Num. xxiv. 
13, "If Balac would give me his house full of 
silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of 
the Lord my God." And after this he prophesied 
the coming of the Messiah, " I shall see Him, but 
not now, I shall behold Him, but not near. A 
star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall 
spring up from Israel, and shall strike the chiefs 
of Moab, and shall lay waste all the children 
of Seth." And again, "Out of Jacob shall he 
come that shall rule, and shall destroy the re 
mains of the city." Lastly, he prophesied the 
destruction of Assyria and Palestine by the Ro 
mans, as we read in Num. xxiv. 24. This is 
almost wholly taken from S. Thomas,* and is 
fully described by Suarez,f Cardinal de Laursea,J 
and Cardinal Gotti.g 

S. Thomas, in order to prove that the heathens 
were capable of prophecy, makes use of the in 
stance of the Sibyls, who make clear mention of 

* 2. 2dse. qu. 171, art. 6. t De Fide, disp. 8, 7. 

J Loc. cit. disp. 19, art. 9, 3. 
De vera Ilclig. Tom, 3, c. 11, H- 2 *> 6. 


the mysteries of the Trinity, of the Incarnation 
of the Word, of the Life, Passion, and Resurrec 
tion of Christ ; to whom, although heathens and 
women, God had given the gift of prophecy as 
a reward for their virginity, as S. Jerome thinks :* 
" Why should I speak of the Sibyls of Erythrsea 
and Cuma, and the other eight ? For Varro 
thinks there were ten, whose crown was their 
virginity, and the reward of their virginity divina 

Cardinal de Laurseat makes use of the same 
example. Suarez seems to reject it, saying that 
it is not clear to him what sort of persons these 
Sibyls were. But as the ancient fathers and 
ecclesiastical authors referred to the oracles of 
the Sibyls, though all that is contained in the 
Sibylline books, published in the eighth volume 
of the Bibleotheca Patrum, is not to be believed 
genuine, it would be unreasonable to pronounce 
apocryphal what the holy fathers and ecclesias 
tical authors have referred to in the earlier ages 
of the Church, and on which they relied as on a 
most firm defence of the Christian religion against 
the heathen, as Noel Alexander}: shows at length, 
and also Cardinal d Aguirre. 

Casaubon disputed the truth of these oracles, 
and Blondell has attempted the same thing. But 
Eudemon Joannes || has vigorously refuted these 

* Adv. Jovinian. lib. n. 41, col, 306, Tom, 2. 

t Loc. cit. n. 248. 

t Hist. Eccles. Saec. 1, c. 12, art. 17. 

Theol. S. Anselm. Tom. 2, disp. 53. 1. 

II Lib. 1, pro Baronio, c. 5. 


objections, and John Caseri, quoted by Daniel 
Huet,* has successfully opposed Blondell. Among 
the sectaries, Isaac Vosst on this subject dissents 
from his father, Gerard Voss, who, in his work on 
the Great Poets, contends that the oracles are 
not genuine. This may be admitted as regards 
the Sibylline poems, now extant, which in the 
course of time have become interpolated ; but 
nevertheless, this does not hinder much of them, 
especially what the early fathers referred to, from 
being genuine, and in no wise apocryphal. 

9. Now to proceed with the rest of the subject 
of which we spoke before ; S. ThomasJ inquires 
whether a natural disposition be requisite for pro 
phecy, and whether moral goodness be requisite. 
With reference to the first question, he shows 
that as prophecy comes from divine inspiration, 
and as God, Who is the universal cause, does not 
require matter nor any dispositions of matter, 
but can at once produce both matter, disposition, 
and form, so also can He at once create a soul, 
and in the act of creation dispose it for prophecy, 
and bestow upon it the gift of prophecy. Where 
fore Gravinag says: "Speaking of supernatural 
prophecy, no disposition is requisite, excepting 
for use. That no disposition is requisite for pro 
phecy, is proved from this : that the author of, 
and efficient cause of prophecy, is God. For God 
in the production of every form does not require 
the disposition of matter, nor is He hindered by 

* Demnest. Evangel. 9, 10. t Lib. 1, de Sibyllinis Oraculis. 

* 2. 2dse. qu. 172, art. 3. Lydius Lapis, lib. 2, p. 236. 


what is not disposed, because He can at orice 

and at the same time cause such disposition and 

introduction of form; as appears in raising the dead 

to life." To the same effect also is the expression 

of S. Gregory* the Great: "He, that is, the 

Holj Ghost, fitteth a youth playing on the harp, 

and makes him a psalmist ; He fitteth a herdsman 

plucking wild figs, and makes him a prophet." 

But if we say further, that God has been pleased 

to bestow the gift of prophecy upon persons of 

every age and sex, every one will be able, judging 

from the facts, to perceive that no particular 

natural disposition is requisite in order to become 

a subject of prophecy, as Cardinal de Laurseat 

infers. Gravina has distinguished, and correctly, 

between prophecy and the exercise of it. For 

the exercise of it we require understanding and 

the inward senses, or some outward one ; as the 

gift of prophecy is a manifestation of the spirit 

for the good of others. Wherefore, though God 

once made use of an irrational animal, namely, 

an ass, to rebuke Balaam, Num. xxii. 28, yet 

has He never made use of an irrational or dead 

creature to manifest future events, or things 

present which are hidden. 

S. Jerome, in his Commentaries on Matthew, 
hints that certain occupations may obstruct the 
prophetic vision : " There are times when the 
presence of the Holy Ghost will be withheld, even 
from a prophet." S. Thomas, considering this 
saying of S. Jerome, says that the prophetic 

* Horn. 30, In. Evangel, n. 8. t Loc. cit. 3, n. 269. 


revelation and the exercise of prophecy may be 
hindered by a natural unfitness, but that it can 
be removed by the divine power, which is the 
cause of prophecy. Suarez* also observes that 
God, the author of prophecy, overcomes every 
natural unfitness, or removes it, so far as it may 
be found in man. As to moral goodness, the 
aforesaid holy doctor says that the gift of pro 
phecy does not of itself require union with God 
through charity, and so is communicated some 
times not only to saints but also to sinners. He 
adds, that prophesying belongs to the intellect, 
and, as we have said, is given for the benefit of 
the Church, as other graces gratis dates are given. 
And that one may, through an evil life, be hin 
dered from prophesying by reason of the passions 
of his soul and exterior occupations ; for as it 
is necessary for prophesying that the mind should 
be raised to the highest contemplation of spiri 
tual things, this may be prevented through vio 
lent passions and inordinate attention to outward 
things. What S. Thomas says, namely, that 
wicked men may have the grace gratis data of 
prophecy, is confirmed out of Gratian,t where 
we read thus : " Prophecy, which is found even 
in wicked men." And again, J "Saul, also a 
wicked king, prophesied, and even then, when he 
was persecuting holy David. Let them not boast, 
then, who perhaps have this great gift of God 
without charity, but let them consider what 

* De Fide, disp. 8. 7. n. 2. 
t Can. Multae antem. * 1, qu. 1, PropJietatri. 


account they must give to God who do not use 
holy things holily." 

When Father Bernardino Paulini of Lucca, of 
the order of S. Dominic, addressed the cardinals 
of the most holy Inquisition in 1558 when Paul 
IV. of holy memory was Pope, and which address 
was published at Paris, in the second volume of 
the Life of Jerome Savonarola he thus spoke 
on the subject of condemning the works of Savo 
narola : " Now, then, whether brother Jerome 
was a saint or a sinner, I say not ; it is enough 
that it is not impossible he may have been a 
prophet, it being admitted that even the wicked 
may receive the gift of prophecy." 

Calmet* tell us that it was the opinion^of the 
Rabbins, that the spirit of prophecy dwelt only 
in men who were remarkable for wisdom, wealth, 
and power, and that they referred the grace 
of prophecy to natural temper, to study, and 
various outward causes. These he earnestly re 
futes, for a very great number of the prophets 
were exceedingly poor. For there are examples 
to show that God has spoken by most wicked men, 
for the gift of prophecy is freely bestowed by 
God without the merit of human industry, al 
though it does not exclude study or unwearied 
application of mind ; and violent agitations of the 
soul have sometimes hindered the impression of 
the Holy Spirit. 

The deeds of Joan of Arc, commonly called the 
Maid of Orleans, because she raised the siege of 

* Prolefr, ad Prophet. art. 3. 


that city, is celebrated in the history of the 
fifteenth century. What she did in order to assist 
Charles VII., king of France, against the English, 
when his affairs were in great confusion, is well 
known. Under her directions the siege of Orleans 
was raised, and the whole country between Bourges 
and Paris was subdued ; by her advice Rheims 
was taken, and Charles was crowned there ; she 
routed Talbot, and destroyed his army ; by her 
daring the gate of Paris was burnt, and by her 
prudence and toil the affairs of France were placed 
in a position of safety, as we read in the sixth 
book of the commentaries of Pius II. But how 
it came to pass that a country maiden, who tended 
her father s flocks, should be entrusted with the 
command of an army, can be explained in no other 
way than by referring it to the spirit of prophecy ; 
that she was so endowed, was admitted by theolo 
gians and the doctors of Paris. They saw that 
she could read the secret thoughts of men s hearts, 
and that the routing of the French army was 
revealed to her on the day and hour it took place, 
notwithstanding her absence from the scene of 
action. There is no doubt of her being of the 
Catholic religion, of her having preserved her 
virginity in the camp, and of her irreproachable 
life ; for the sentence of Peter Cauchou, bishop 
of Beauvais, who had charged her with magic, 
heresy, and immorality, was rescinded, as unjust, 
by the authority of the sovereign Pontiff, Calixtus 
III., as is related at large by Spondanus* in his 

* Ad. Ann. 1430, n.> 


Annals, by Bzovius,* and Martin del Rio.f But 
however, as no mention has ever been made of her 
sanctity and heroic virtues, and as no decision 
has been come to on the subject, we may infer 
from it, that the gift of prophecy may be separate 
from sanctity. 

10. We must say further, that no mere man 
had prophetic knowledge habitually, or in his own 
power, before he received any actual revelation, 
or the motion of the Holy Ghost by inspiration, or 
the word of God. We say, that no mere man ever 
had prophetic knowledge, in this way, that we 
might except Christ our Lord, Who, in virtue of 
the hypostatic union, had, in this life, blessed and 
infused knowledge, whereby He knew all truths 
which can be revealed by prophecy to men, and 
so could, of His own proper and habitual or abiding 
knowledge, prophesy, without waiting for any reve 
lation or the word of God. Again, it is certain 
that no prophet, Christ always excepted, however 
great, and one who received many revelations, has 
received the gift of prophecy to be habitually with 
him, so as to have the knowledge of secret things, 
or be able to prophesy at will. Eliseus said, 4 Kings 
iv. 27 : " The Lord hath hid it from me, and hath 
not told me." When, before this, he knew not 
what to answer to the kings, he commanded them 
to bring a minstrel, and when the minstrel played, 
the hand of the Lord came upon him, and he said, 
"Thus saith the Lord." Eliseus, then, knew not 
beforehand what the Lord would say to him. 

* Tom. 15, ad. an. 1430. t Disquis. Magic. lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 3, ? 6. 


The Sunamitess, in her affliction because of her 
child s death, went to Eliseus, but he knew not 
her calamity : " The Lord hath hid it from me, 
and hath not told me." When God sent Samuel 
to anoint one of the sons of Isai, He did not tell 
him which of the seven, therefore, when Eliab 
came in, Samuel judging from his countenance 
and the height of his stature, that he was the 
chosen one, said to the Lord, 1 Kings, xvi. 6 : " Is 
the Lord s anointed before Him? and the Lord 
said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, nor 
on the height of his stature." When, afterwards, 
he understood that none of the rest were chosen 
by God, because he heard nothing from the Lord, 
but when the youth David was brought before 
him, "the Lord said, arise and anoint him, for 
this is he." Likewise, when Nebuchodonosor pro 
nounced sentence of death upon all the wise men 
of Babylon, if they did not interpret his dream, 
Daniel revealed all that had been foretold in a 
dream to the king. And when Nebuchodonosor 
required Daniel to interpret another dream, he be 
gan silently to think within himself for about one 
hour, and his thoughts troubled him, and then he 
was enlightened by God, and gave the interpreta 
tion of the dream. 

Theologians make use of these examples to 
prove and defend a proposition, which S. Thomas* 
confirms by his principles, who says that the pro 
phetic light is in the soul of a prophet after the 
manner of a passion or passing impression, and 

*2. 2ds2. qu. 171, art. 2. 


thus the mind of a prophet is always in need of a 
new revelation, like a disciple, who, having not yet 
mastered the principles of his art, requires to be 
taught each of them separately. Scacchus* may 
be consulted on this subject, and Calmetf says : 
" Lastly, if the Spirit of God were always present 
with the prophets, why, then, are those expressions 
so common in their writings : The Spirit of the 
Lord, or, the hand of the Lord upon me. ? These 
are most evident proofs, says S. Jerome, in his 
commentaries on Ezechiel ii., that, by reason of 
human frailty and bodily necessities, the "Holy 
Spirit at times withdrew Himself from them." 

11. We learn from what we have hitherto writ 
ten, that it is of the essence of true prophecy, that 
the prophet should not only know what are 
revealed to him, but also that it is God Who 
reveals them ; that no natural disposition is 
required for prophecy ; that union with God by 
charity is not requisite in order to have the gift 
of prophecy, and thus it was at times bestowed 
even upon sinners ; that prophecy was never 
habitually possessed by any mere man. All this 
is with great learning explained by Father Bal- 
delli in the MS. to which we have referred in the 
following terms : " God, as the Almighty cause, 
does not require for His results any particular 
disposition of the matter which receives them ; 
but accomplishes, with the same ease, together 
with the results, whenever it pleases Him, both 

* De not. et Sign. Sanct. 8, c. 2. n. 585. 
f Loc. cit. art. 3, p. 509. 


the disposition and the matter. Hence it is, that 
for the light of prophecy there is no need of any 
particular disposition or determinate condition in 
the subject upon whom it is bestowed, but he 
whom God pleases may prophesy, as S. Thomas* 
teaches, provided, however, he be naturally capa 
ble of understanding, and keep himself clear of 
those passions of the soul which absorb on other 
objects all his powers of apprehension : such, in 
particular, are those which are mentioned by S. 
Jerome,! who says, that at certain times the Holy 
Spirit is not given even to prophets. Nor is this 
to be understood only of any disposition, as habi 
tual and permanent, which is to be pre-supposed in 
a prophet, but also of the actual and the transient, 
as perhaps the appearance of alienation and ab 
straction from sense ; seeing that not even this is 
necessary, either for receiving the influx of the 
prophetic illumination, or for the formal under 
standing of those things which are made manifest 
through that light, as S. Thomas observes. And 
because the prophetic light, according to the same 
doctor, is not granted as a habit and form, perma 
nent in the soul, as light in the body of the sun, 
but as a transient affection, as light in the air. 
Hence it is that the prophets have not always the 
spirit of prophecy at their will, and sometimes, 
as S. Gregory says, the spirit of prophecy 
fails the prophets, and is not always present with 

" In this way Eliseus said of the woman of 

* 2. 2dre. qu. 172, art. 3. t 82, qu. 2, Connubia. 

1 I VOL. in. 


Sunam : * Her soul is in anguish, and the Lord hath 
hid it from me, and hath not told it me. And 
again, when Josaphat king of Juda required of 
him, he did not receive from the Lord the spirit 
of prophecy till a minstrel had been brought in, 
that is, after singing and hearing the praises of 
God, and by that means he obtained it ; as S. 
Gregory observes. This is clear also from the 
ordinary language of scripture, in speaking of the 
prophets: the Lord spoke to the prophet, and, 
the word of the Lord came to the prophet: 
which only express the manifestation and actual 
illumination, and a transient impression, not 
habitual and permanent. Moreover, it is not 
because he is a prophet that he knows all that 
is to come, nor can he prophesy of everything, 
but only of that which the prophetic illumination 
manifests to him, as S. Gregory and S. Thomas 

" On the contrary, at times, through the exer 
cise of prophecy, a prophet speaks and thinks 
he is speaking in the prophetic light, but he 
speaks only in his own spirit, and deceives 
himself. * Sometimes the prophets, while they 
are consulted, says S. Gregory, by reason of 
their frequent prophesying, speak in their own 
spirit, thinking that they are speaking in the 
spirit of prophecy. But in order to prevent delu 
sion, the Holy Ghost quickly corrects them, and 
they hear from Him what is true, and blame 
themselves who have spoken falsely. And as 
Thomas teaches, although the prophetic light, 
when perfect, carries with it the greatest cer- 


tainty that it comes from God, and without risk 
of error or deceit, nevertheless, if it is imperfect, 
and only a certain instinct which the prophet 
feels, it may easily come short of that certainty. 
And in such a case it may happen that the pro 
phet thinks he is speaking by inspiration of God, 
and yet speaks only of his own spirit, and in tho 
event discovers the falsehood of it, as we have 

" And perhaps it is thus, that it has some 
times happened that different persons have pub 
lished contradictory revelations, as for example, 
that the Blessed Virgin was, and was not, con 
ceived without original sin; one only of these 
had received a true revelation, the other be 
lieved he had it, but in truth had spoken only 
of his own spirit, and not by inspiration of God. 
In the same way, when the light of prophecy is 
imperfect, the prophet may be moved to con 
ceive internally, and to speak, or do something 
which God wills to be a symbol or sign of future 
things, without his understanding the true mean 
ing of the matter, which he conceives, speaks, or 
does, as was the case with Caiphas, of whom S. 
John says, that being the high priest of that year, 
he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation ; 
and not only for the nation, but to gather together 
in one the children of God that were dispersed. 
And this prophetic light was in him only an in 
stinct to speak materially these words: It is 
expedient for you that one man should die for the 
people, and that the whole nation perish not. 
And this, as S. John says, he spoke not of him- 


self. And as S. Thomas teaches, he did not even 
understand what he was saying, neither did he at 
all pretend to prophesy, as S. Augustine* observes. 

" But when it is evident that prophecy and reve 
lations are from God, this does not prove great sanc 
tity in the prophet, inasmuch as sanctity consists in 
being the friend of God, and in sanctifying grace. 
On the contrary, according to S. Thomas, it may 
exist without it, and in the soul of a sinner : see 
ing that the art itself of understanding by the 
prophetic light does not of itself require union 
with God through charity, and the end for which 
it is granted, namely, the profit of another as S. 
Paul says in his first epistle to the Corinthians, 
the manifestation of the spirit is given to every 
man unto profit may take effect, though the pro 
phet be not in a state of grace. Whence we know 
that Caiphas, a wicked and unjust priest, also pro 
phesied. And according to S. Matth. vii, to those 
who say to our Lord, have we not prophesied in 
Thy name? He clearly answers, I never knew 
you. On this passage S. Jerome observes, that to 
prophesy, to perform miracles, and cast out devils, 
does not result from his merits who does so, but 
proceeds from the invocation of the name of 
Christ, or is for the condemnation of those who 
invoked it, or for the profit of those who hear 
and see. 

"Nevertheless, prophecy which is directed to 
the profit of others, according to S. Thomas, is 
evidence of great restraint of internal passions 

* De cur. mort. c. 19. 


and external occupations in the prophet, seeing 
it requires the lifting up of the mind to divine 
things, and this may hindered by the violence 
of passions and inordinate attention to external 
things. We read in 4 Kings iv. that the sons of 
the prophets dwelt with Eliseus, as it were, in the 
wilderness, in order that the distractions and occu 
pations of the city might not hinder the gift of 
prophecy ; for the enjoyment of interior solitude 
and the desert of the soul, at least, is necessary for 
the gift of prophecy." 

12. Herewith agrees Silvius* in his commen 
taries on S. Thomas, for he teaches that the 
mind of the prophet is informed by God in two 
ways ; one, express revelation, the other, a secret 
instinct. And with respect to those things which 
the prophet knows in the former manner, he 
always perceives what he utters through the 
prophetic spirit, and what he utters of his own ; 
because he knows with perfect certainty those 
things which are expressly revealed, and is per 
fectly certain that it is God Who reveals them. 
But with respect to those things which the pro 
phet knows through the secret instinct, he does 
not always perceive what he utters through the 
prophetic spirit, and what of his own ; and so 
it sometimes happens that, what the prophet 
thinks to be a suggestion coming from God, is 
only the suggestion of his human heart. He 
also says that prophecy requires no natural dis 
position, for the gift of prophecy, transcending 

* 2. 2dae, qu. 171, art. 5, torn. 3. 


the human faculties, is given by God, not in 
virtue of any created cause, but independently 
of it. And, explaining the doctrine of S. Thomas, 
he says, that it was not denied by him that a 
particular spiritual disposition may precede the 
reception of the prophetic light, such as lifting 
up the mind to God, prayer, fasting, and the 
like, which holy men are said to have practised, 
namely, Daniel, xi. and Elias, 4 Kings iii. 

He further shows that moral goodness is not 
required for prophecy, and that it may be given 
to one who is not in a state of grace, and con 
sequently without charity ; and adds, that al 
though prophecy does not tend directly to the 
profit of him who receives it, if, however, it 
be given by God at any time for the spiritual 
good of the prophet, then, either before, or to 
gether with the gift of prophecy, God bestows 
upon him sanctifying grace, and then he shows 
that prophecy, or the prophetic illumination, of 
itself, and in its own nature, is not a habit, but 
may, however, by the divine power, be perpetu 
ally preserved in a particular person, as was done 
in Christ our Lord. 




1. SOME philosophers ascribe to the soul a gift 
of divination, as if it was possessed within itself of 
a certain virtue of knowing future events. Some 
of them, too, have taught, that the soul released 
from the senses, as especially during sleep, and 
at the end of life, is conscious of wonderful things, 
and not unfrequently foretells what will happen, 
which the subsequent events proved to be true. 
They extend this to persons who are melancholy. 
If to this we add the oracles of the Pythian and 
Delphic Apollo, of Dodona, and Jupiter Aminon, of 
the Borysthenes, of the pillars of Hercules, and the 
like, it may seem an inference from these, that 
the knowledge and foreknowledge, both of internal 
acts, and of future events, is not reserved to 
God alone, but may be possessed in a natural 
way by men, and also by an angel, whether 
good or bad. But in opposition to this we have 
divine testimony, the doctrine of theologians, and 
the opinion of philosophers, which we shall now 

2. As to divine testimonies, we have that of 
Isaias, xli. 23, "Show the things that are to 
come hereafter, and we shall know that ye are 


gods." And, again, xlvi. 9, "Remember the 
former age, for I am God, and there is no other 
God beside, neither is there the like to Me. Who 
show from the beginning the things that shall be 
at last, and from ancient times the things that 
as yet are not done." Likewise, in Daniel, xi. 28, 
where, after Daniel had said that neither the 
wise men nor the soothsayers could tell what 
the dream of the king of Babylon portended, 
he continues, " But there is a God in heaven 
that revealeth mysteries, who hath shown to thee, 
King Nabuchodonosor, what is to come to pass 
in the latter times." Again, in 2 Paralip., vi. 30, 
where Solomon says in his prayer : " Render to 
every one according to his ways, which thou 
knowest him to have in his heart, for thou only 
knowest the hearts of the children of men." It 
is also written, Jerem. xvii. 9, " The heart is 
perverse above all things, and unsearchable ; who 
can know it ? I am the Lord Who search the 
heart and prove the reins." Lastly, it is written 
concerning Christ, John ii. 25, " He needed not 
that any should give testimony of man ; for He 
knew what was in man ;" and, again, Matth. xi. 4, 
" And Jesus, seeing their thoughts, said." Where 
fore S. Jerome, in his commentaries on that pas 
sage of Jeremias just quoted, says, " Let us 
understand it simply, that no one but God only 
knows the secret thoughts of men." And from 
the knowledge of the thought of men, he proves 
that Christ was not a mere man, but God also, 
"If it be said of our Saviour, Jesus seeing their 
thoughts, and no one can see their thoughts 


but God alone, then Christ is God, who search- 
eth the heart and proveth the reins." 

3. As to the teaching of theologians, S. Thomas* 
shows, that the thoughts of men may be known 
from bodily signs ; the fearful grow pale, the 
bashful blush, and the physicians detect passion 
through the changes of the heart, which they 
ascertain by means of the pulse. This being 
premised, he says, that the devil may this way 
learn the thoughts of men much more than man. 
Then he adds, that an inferior cause cannot 
know that which falls in order beneath a superior 
cause, but only the higher moving cause, and 
that which is moved ; and the will can be inte 
riorly moved by no other than God, to Whose 
order it is immediately subject. Voluntary 
thoughts, therefore, cannot be truly known by 
the devil, nor by any other, but only by God, 
and by man, who so wills and thinks. This is 
repeated by the holy doctor! in another place, 
where, after saying that the thoughts of the 
heart may be understood from bodily signs, he 
subjoins, that this may happen, if, through actual 
thought, whereby a man deserves well or ill, his 
condition is in some way changed. This change 
may become known to the angels, without, how 
ever, their knowing that thought in particular, 
but only generally ; for a man may by many 
and different thoughts deserve well or ill, rejoice 
or be sorrowful. Hej shows, too, that contin- 

* Qu. 16, de malo. art. 8. 
t Qu. 8, de veritate. art, 13. J 1. Fart, qu. 14, art. 13. 


gent events may be considered under two as 
pects ; namely, in themselves, as they are in 
act, and in their causes, and so as they are not 
specially determined ; for no one can have but 
a conjectural knowledge of contingent effects in 
their own causes, and that God alone knows all 
contingent events, not only as they are in their 
causes, but also as each one of them is in act 
in itself; so that, although contingent events 
take place successively, yet are they not known 
to God in an order of succession, for they are 
in the Divine sight presentially, as the holy doctor 
says, however future may be those contingencies 
compared with their causes. Again, he proposes 
the question, whether the angels know future 
events ; he answers, that future events which 
result necessarily from their causes, such as, that 
the sun will rise to-morrow, may be known with 
certainty of knowledge, and also those events 
which result generally from their causes, may be 
known but by conjectures ; this manner of know 
ing future events belongs to the angels much 
more than to men, for they know the causes of 
things more universally and more perfectly. He 
then adds, that they are utterly ignorant of 
what results but rarely from its causes, as for 
tuitous events ; that future events are known 
only by God, whether they be future events which 
result of necessity, or generally, or fortuitously ; 
for God sees everything in His own eternity, 
which is absolute in all time, and includes it. 
This knowledge cannot belong to angelic intelli 
gence, for a created understanding comes short of 
the divine eternity. 


In harmony with this theologians teach that 
the devil cannot with certainty foretell future 
events, but may, because he knows some things cer 
tainly, from them foretell with probability and by 
conjecture many things; may foretell with certainty 
what depends upon necessary causes, and which 
cannot be hindered from taking effect by other 
natural causes. The devil may also remember all 
past events which he has either learnt from others, 
or which he himself saw accomplished ; he may 
also know present hidden things, which may 
become known to him by exterior acts, such 
as secret thefts, and the like, which escape the 
knowledge of men ; he cannot know the spontane 
ous thoughts of men unless they be made manifest 
by some external sign ; and lastly, he can with 
incredible quickness make known what is done 
in distant countries, so that the ignorant may 
suppose that it was long ago foretold, as is shown 
at length by Anastasius, Bishop of Nice,* by 
Martin del Rio,t Matta,J Raphael de la Torre, I 
ArauxoJ Thyrseus.lf 

S. Augustine** relates that the devil fore 
saw the cessation of a plague ; and Coquseus, in 
his notes on the place, says, that the devil can 
foretell what he himself is about to do, and perhaps 

* Qu. 23, in Sacr. Scripturam. 

t Disquis, Magic, lib. 4, c. 2. 

t De Canon, SS. part 3, c. 1, n. 45. 

2. 2dae. D. Thoma, qu. 95, art. 2, disp. 1, p. 114. 

II Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23, n. 93. 

1T De Apparit. Intellect, lib. 4, c. 13, n. 14. 

** De civit. Dei, lib, 1, c. 32. 


foresaw the cessation of the plague which he had 
himself, by the permission of God, inflicted, and 
thus could easily turn it away. In another place,* 
he says that the devil would not tempt man if 
he knew his temper with certainty and not by 
conjecture : " We have, however, most certain 
proofs that the thoughts of men have been re 
vealed by evil spirits ; who yet, if they could 
see the internal virtues of men, would not 
tempt them ; as without doubt if the devil could 
have seen the noble and admirable patience of 
Job, he would not have allowed himself to be 
defeated by him when he tempted him." 

S. Thomasf admits that the prophets of tho 
devils may sometimes speak and foretell through 
divine inspiration. God making use of the wicked 
for the advantage of the good, and that it is possi 
ble for evil spirits, by revelation of good angels, 
God permitting, to reveal future events. Consult 
Silvius on this passage of S. Thomas, where, in 
illustration of the doctrine of S. Thomas, he says, 
that Balaam, mentioned in the Book of Numbers, 
was a prophet of the devil, but that the prophecies 
he uttered were from God, Who, as He some 
times reveals future events to believers, but who 
are wicked, so also does He reveal to unbe 
lievers and servants of the devil, as He judges 
to be meet for the edification of others. All this 
is well explained by Tertullian,J who says, "Every 
spirit is swift-winged, both angels and devils. 
They are, therefore, everywhere in an instant. 

* Lib. 12, de Genes, ad Litteram, c. 17, Tom. 3, part. 1, col. 308. 
t 2. 2doe. qu, 172. art. 5, et 6. J Apolog. c. - 2. 


The whole world is to them as one spot. What 
is everywhere they as easily know as they an 
nounce it. Swiftness is supposed to be divinity, 
because substance is ignored. They learn the 
intentions even of God, now from the prophets 
who announce them, and at another time they 
discover them by hearing them read ; so pondering 
the circumstances of times, they imitate divinity 
while they steal divination." To what we said 
before, namely, that the devil may know what 
is done in remote countries, and report it so 
quickly as to make the ignorant believe it to 
have been announced long before, may be referred 
the case of Apollonius, who, says Philostratus in 
his Life, cried out at Ephesus, that Domitian was 
then killed at Rome, from which he acquired the 
reputation of divinity, so far as to know and fore 
tell future events. A similar circumstance is re 
lated by Gellius* of a certain Cornelius, and of 
another person by Ammonius.t 

4. Lastly, the philosophers teach correctly that 
there is no faculty of knowing future events im 
planted in the human soul. For as man can 
know nothing but what is already in being of 
itself, or in its cause, future events are neither 
in being of themselves nor in their causes, but 
depend solely on the will of God ; and as no 
object can be known but by its species, and as 
there is no species of what is not in being, they 
conclude that future events are known only to 
God, and not to man. Philostratus, therefore, 

* Noct. Attic, lib. 15, c. 18. t Annal. lib. 3. c. 12. 


rightly says, " The whole act of divination tran 
scends the bounds of nature, and is not to be 
reached by the human mind, it being impossible 
for it to attain to that elevation, unless God 
speaks, or the devil generally suggests what is 
false, though sometimes what is true, that he may 
bind the foolish the more closely to himself." 

The same philosophers alsS admit, that a prudent 
and very skilful and experienced man may attain 
to it in some degree, and pronounce an opinion 
on future events, provided they can be ascer 
tained from causes in a certain way manifest, 
or not so hidden ; and they explain how persons 
given to melancholy, or on the point of death, 
may foretell what in the event has happened, 
without drawing any inference therefrom that 
there is in the soul any natural power of divining, 
or that the knowledge of future events is not 
reserved to God alone. On this subject we refer 
to Vallesius,* Gaspar a Rejes.t and Zacchias.J 
We read in S. Gregory,^ " The power of the soul 
by its subtility foresees some things ;" and he 
alleges certain cases from which he shows that 
persons at the point of death sometimes foreknow 
and foretell future events. Plato had before him 
said as much in his Apology, wherein he brings 
forward Socrates speaking in this way : " I have 
come to that time when men are wont to foretell 
future events ; when they are on the point of 

* De Sacra. Philosoph. c. 30. t Jucund. Qu. art. 27, 

t Qusest, Medicolegal. qu. 5, art. 1. Dial, lib. 4,,qu. 5, art. 1. 


death." Tully,* too, in his book on Divination, 
says to the same effect : " Posidonius maintains 
that dying persons can divine, and confirms it 
by the instance of a certain Rhodian, who, when 
dying, named six of his friends, and said which of 
them should die first, which second, and so on." 
Both Plato and Aristotle have said that fools, 
idiots, and melancholy persons have a greater 
tendency to divination than others who are 
of sound mind. But this is correctly explained, 
not of true prophecy, but of divination, which 
has a certain connection with its natural causes. 
Wherefore Raphael de la Torref writes: " We deny 
not that there are certain men rather disposed 
to divination, that is, to foretell certain natural 
events from an understanding of their natural 
causes, with which they have a certain connec 
tion. Of this kind are those whom we have 
mentioned. For as brute beasts have the faculty 
of divination more than men, for men are wont 
to derive from them natural prognostications of 
what is coming. Fishes point out to the sur 
prised mariner the coming storm, birds to the 
husbandman, cattle to the herdsman, sheep to the 
shepherds ; for to brute beasts is given a certain 
natural instinct for prudence. The reason of 
this is, that the brute creation has a greater 
affinity with physical causes ; so, among men, 
those who are dull and stupid differ but little 
from the brute beasts in their actions. Of the 
dying we say, that if they prophesy what cannot 

* Lib. 1. c. 0. t Loc. cit. art. 1, disp. 2. 


be naturally known, they know those things and 
foretell them, because God divinely illuminates 
their minds. This is what S. Gregory shows in 
the passage referred to, alleging two or three 
instances. Thus did Jacob, as we read in 
Genesis xli., when he was at the point of death, 
and Moses also, Deut. xxxiii. But, indeed, if the 
dying foretell future events, which have natural 
causes, they do so, because at that time the 
mind is uncontrolled by the senses, and collects 
itself, and beholds things better and more 
accurately ; because it is neither disturbed nor 
distracted by the various and manifold motion of 
the senses," 

5. In the Decretum of Ivo of Chartres, pub 
lished by Fronto, a canon regular of S. Genevieve, 
from a MS. in the library of S. Victor at Paris, 
are many things taken out of S. Augustine on the 
predictions of the devil, which, notwithstanding, 
it is certain that the devil cannot with certainty 
know the interior thoughts of men, nor with safety 
predict what will happen in the future. " Some 
times they predict not what they will themselves 
do, but what they know beforehand by certain na 
tural signs, which signs do not come under the ob 
servation of men. The physician, because he fore 
sees what a person ignorant of his art cannot 
foresee, is not, therefore, to be looked on as 
divine. It is not to be wondered at, that as he 
foresees in the disturbed and changed physical 
system good or bad health, so also the devil, 
in the disturbance of the atmosphere, known to 
himself, but unknown to us, should foresee tho 


coming storm. Sometimes, too, they learn easily 
the intentions of men, not only uttered in words, 
but conceived in the thoughts, when the body 
gives certain indications thereof; and hence it 
is that they foretell many future things which 
are wonderful to those who know not of such 
intentions. For as the excited movements of the 
mind appear in the countenance, so that men 
from without can ascertain what is transacted 
within ; so also ought it not to be incredible, 
if the more tranquil thoughts cause signs of 
themselves to appear in the body, which cannot 
be traced by the blunted senses of men, but can 
be by the quick discernment of the devil. By 
this, and powers like this, the devil can foretell 
many future events, when, nevertheless, he is 
far removed from that height of prophecy which 
is wrought by God through His holy angels and 

6. Father Baldelli also, in the manuscript to 
which we have referred, has most lucidly explained 
all that we have been just now discussing : " How 
ever, besides this divine prophecy, which is occu 
pied with all things that may be made known by 
God, and which are secret from the prophet in 
their own nature, and particularly with future 
events, which are contingent and undetermined, 
S. Thomas speaks of another kind, less perfect, 
which is natural, and of another, evil, which is of 
the devil : to the former belong all things which 
are determinate in their own cause, to the latter 
all that may be known by the devil. And of 
these effects only ought those philosophers to be 


understood who admit absolutely prophecy in na 
ture, and principally from heavenly influences, 
they add, that it requires a certain disposition 
and physical temperament for the better reception 
of the heavenly impressions, as Albertus Magnus* 
declares. Aristotlet says it proceeds from a cer 
tain temperament and melancholy humour, which 
in a manner is treated as the organ of imagination, 
and is the seat of the mind, that many are ruled 
by the lymphatic instinct, and that the Sibyls and 
Bacchse were moved thereby, and all those who 
believed themselves under the influence of divine 
inspiration. Not because the melancholic humour 
has of itself the power of illuminating the under 
standing concerning future and hidden things, but 
because it has the power of recalling the forces of 
the soul from other objects, and disposing them 
for the better reception of motions and impres 
sions which proceed from external causes, as Aris 
totle most clearly teaches, where he says, that 
fanatics, through the visions they have of many 
things, and those who foretell future events, do 
not of themselves do and say what they do and 
say, but only from higher and more powerful 
causes. And for these reasons it may be said, 
that it happens that this kind of prophecy is im 
parted more when men are asleep than when they 
are waking, and more to simple, stupid, and rude 
people than to those of a sound and cultivated 
mind, and more to those who are at the point of 

* De Anima, lib. 3, tr. 1, c. 1. 
t Probl. tt SO, n. 1. * Ad Eudem. lib. 2, c. 9, 


death than to madmen and the like, as Aristotle* 
observes; because, while the soul rests from sensi 
ble objects, as in sleep, and while there are few 
images and appearances of other things to dis 
turb the soul, as in simple, dull, and rude people, 
who in this very much resemble beasts ; and 
finally, while either owing to the humours or the 
cessation of other cares, it enjoys a better dis 
position for impression from without, it cannot but 
be that these are then better received and under 

"Moreover, for the same reasons God, too, 
though He does not require the suspension of the 
senses for the prophetic light, nevertheless He 
very often causes this, and especially when the 
light is most perfect and intense. And there is 
no doubt that He works thus more conformably 
to our nature, which, the more it busies itself with 
one subject, the more of necessity is it withdrawn 
from others. And perhaps it was thus that the 
prophet Eliseus caused a minstrel to be brought 
before him, or singer of the praises of God, in 
order that he might collect himself and the better 
dispose himself for the prophetic impressions and 
manifestations. But it must be observed with S. 
Thomas, in the place referred to, that with re 
spect to this natural prophesying, only those 
issues can be referred to it which are determinate 
in their own causes, and all indifferently, whether 
necessary or contingent; and what ought to be 
attributed to natural causes, or only to the will 

* De divin. per somn. c, 1 & 2. 


and power of God, can be referred to no other 
kind of prophecy than that which is called pro 
phecy absolutely, and which is divine. This alone 
contains truth, certain and infallible, through the 
illumination of God, wherein it rests, and the 
other, which is natural, cannot foretell as true 
even the natural results of which it speaks, but 
only generally and under certain conditions, such 
as that their causes shall not be interfered with. 
Although S. Augustine* says, There are not want 
ing persons who say that there is in the soul a 
certain power of divination and foreseeing all 
things, and this, according to S. Thomas in the 
place cited, appears to have been said by Plato in 
consequence of his principles, according to which 
the soul receives the knowledge of all things, not 
because it acquires it by the instrumentality of the 
senses, but because it partakes of the ideas ; and 
because it is united with the body, is therefore more 
or less obscured and clouded, according to the im 
purity of the body. But this is approved neither 
by S. Augustine nor S. Thomas, and is proved to 
be false by experience, by which every man feels 
that he does not know not only things future, but 
even things present, if they do not come before 
him through the medium of the senses. If there 
were in the soul any natural power of divining, it 
would be subject to the will of every one, as are 
the other powers of understanding, and every one 
might prophesy at his pleasure : this, too, is shown 
by experience to be false. This is not to deny 

* De ftene*. art lit. lib. 12, c. 13. 


a particular natural ability in some persons to 
foretell by conjecture what may come to pass, 
however uncertain. This, S. Thomas says, may 
be perfected and acquired by experience, and is 
principally grounded on a perfect imagination, 
and a clear understanding. And Aristotle plainly 
allows a certain science which he calls expecta- 
live, and predictive of the future, and says that 
it corresponds to that faculty which some have 
more than others, of remembering the past and 
understanding the present. 

" With respect to the last kind of prophecy, 
which is of the devil, we must look upon it as 
analogous to that which is natural, that is, as 
reaching only to that which the devil knows, and 
this cannot show itself without continual fear of 
deceit, seeing that it rests solely on the power 
and operation of the devil. And although he is not 
permitted to operate immediately in the intellect, 
yet is it permitted him to make things known by 
forming visions in the imagination, and even by 
speaking so as to be heard, as S. Thomas observes. 
In this way he makes many prophets, as appears 
from 3 Kings, xviii. 19, where the prophets of 
Baal are numbered at three hundred and fifty, 
and the prophets of the groves four hundred and 
fifty, when Elias said to Achab : * Gather unto 

me the prophets of Baal four hundred and 

fifty, and the prophets of the groves, four hun 
dred. " 

7. Finally, the devil, rivalling the divine glory, 
and striving to imitate it, gave answers to those 
who enquired of him from caverns and through 



statues, as Villalpandi* shows in his Commen 
taries on Ezekiel. If at any time by those answers 
he revealed the interior thoughts of men, or fore 
told future events which came to pass, he did so 
through the means already explained, and princi 
pally through guesses, according to what is fully 
stated by Maioli.t And, indeed, that this is 
upon the whole referable to conjecture, is ascer 
tained by two considerations ; the first is, that 
the predictions were for the most part false, when 
S. John ChrysostomJ says ; " To foretell acurately 
future events is the property of one immortal. 
For if the devils have at any time done so, they 
did so deceiving the simple : and their prophecies 
have been ever found to be false." The second 
is, that his prophecies of future events were always 
crafty and ambiguous. Wherefore Cicerog says ; 
" He who invented those oracles did so with craft, 
so that whatever happened it might seem to have 
been foretold, no mention being made of times 
and persons." Tertullian, after reciting the words, 
subjoins : " The Croesuses and Pyrrhuses know 
with what craft these oracles were conceived with 
reference to the issues." 

Croesus, when he consulted the oracle of Apollo, 
whether he should make war upon the Persians, 
received this response, as Eusebius|| relates ; " If 
the bold Crcasus will cross the river Halys, he 

* Tom. 1, part. 1, in c. 2, part. 2, c. 27, Tom. 2, lib. 1, c. 2, lib. 3, 
c. 10. Tom. 3, lib. 3, c. 29. 

t De Vaticiniis, Tom. 1, colloquior. p. 517. 

* Horn. 19, D, Joann. Tom. 8, p. 112. 
De Divinitttt. lib. 2, c. 54. H De Praepar. Evangel, lib. 5, c. 10- 


will destroy a great empire and a proud king 
dom." Croasus was deceived by the ambiguity 
of the word "destroy," and made war upon the 
Persians, thinking to lay waste their kingdom, 
but it was himself that destroyed his own by the 
unprosperous issue of that war. A like calamity 
befel Pyrrhus king of Epirus, who consulted the 
same oracle, in order to learn whether he should 
conquer the Romans ; he, too, received an am 
biguous reply, which we read in Cicero in the 
place referred to : " My response is, the Romans 
the son of ^Eacus may conquer." Wherefore, 
Pyrrhus, in the hope of victory, fought against 
the Romans, and, defeated by them, learnt the 
meaning of the ambiguous oracle by his over 

Hence it came to pass that with men of sound 
understanding, although heathens, the credit of 
oracles had fallen so low, that nothing was held 
in greater contempt. Porphyry, who had written 
a book on the philosophy derived from oracles, 
admitted their vanity, as may be seen in Euse- 
bius.* And Origen, too, witnesses to the same 
in his book against Celsus,t where he writes thus ; 
"I say then, with respect to these oracles, that 
we can produce many things out of Aristotle and 
the Peripatetics, which destroy the credit of the 
Pythian and other oracles ; we can also transcribe 
from Epicurus and his followers what they 
thought of oracles, and show that the Greeks 
themselves made no account even of the most 

* Pracpar. Evangel, lib. 6, c. 4, t Lib. 7. 


celebrated oracles of Greece." The testimony 
of Lactantius,* too, is express : "In the oracles 
they are greatly deceived, the deceits of which 
the profane cannot distinguish from the truth, 
and, therefore, suppose that they bestow empires, 
victories, wealth, and prosperous issues of affairs." 
8. Suidast and CedrenusJ say that the oracles 
ceased at the coming of Christ, especially the 
famous one at Delphi. They relate that the Em 
peror Augustus received this reply from the devil 
who gave oracles at Delphi : " The Hebrew Child, 
Himself a God governing the good, bids me retire 
and withdraw into melancholy hell ; depart there 
fore in silence from our altars." And they add 
that Augustus, on his return to Rome, built an 
altar in the capitol, with this inscription, "The 
altar of the first-born of God." It is thought to 
be the place in the capitol where now stands the 
Basilica of the Blessed Mother of God, called for 
this reason Am Cceli. Whether this is consistent 
with accurate criticism, this is not the place to 
enquire. Antony Van Daleg may be consulted. 
Casaubon,|| who wrote two books on the cessation 
of the oracles, attempts to show from Plutarch that 
the oracle at Delphi was consulted after the birth 
of Christ, and that responses had not ceased to 
be given there, but had ceased to be given in 
verse. The silence also of Justin Martyr, Tertul- 
lian, Lactantius, Minutius Felix, Origen, who 

* Divin. Instit. lib. 2, c. 17. 

+ V. Augustus. J Compend. Nicepp. lib. 1, c. 17. 

Diss 2, De Oracul. Ethnic, duratione ac interitu. 

II Exercit. 1, ad apparat. Annal. Baronii. 


wrote apologies for the Christian faith, on the 
subject of an altar in the capitol dedicated to the 
only hegotten of God, lessens our faith in the 
miracle, as Father Graveson* observes. Lastly* 
he who wishes to know more of the ancient oracles, 
and that the knowledge of future contingencies is 
forbidden both to angels and men, let him betake 
himself to the Canonical Consultations of Pigna- 
telli,f published in 1711 at Ferrajo. 



1. It was necessary to premise what we have 
written in the foregoing chapters, in order to pre 
pare the way for what we have now to say with 
reference to beatification and canonization. It is 
admitted by all that the spirit of prophecy has 
always existed in the Church from the times of 
the Apostles, and has continued. Justin Martyr, 
in his dialogue with Trypho, says : " The gifts of 
prophecy are among us even until now, so that 
ye ought to perceive that what was formerly among 
you, is now transferred to us, And as among you 
in the days of the prophets false prophets arose, 
so also among us are many false teachers whom 
our Lord warned us to beware of." And further 

* De Mysteriis et annia Christi. t Cons. 81, 83, 81, 85. 


on he says : " Among us may be seen men and 
women who have the gifts of the Spirit of God." 
There are extant many prophecies of the saints 
uttered by the Spirit of God. S. Gregory* the 
Great, after deploring the state of Italy and the 
evils inflicted upon it by its friends and defenders, 
namely, the ministers of the Emperor, and in par 
ticular Julian Scribo, says : " But be not made 
sad by these things, for they who come after us 
shall see worse times, so that in comparison with 
their own case they will consider us as living in 
good days." S. Gregory was a true prophet, for 
under the heretical emperors the Church was most 
grievously harassed, and, which was the greatest 
of all evils, there arose the most wicked sect of 
Mahomet, which wreaked its malice upon, and 
exercised dominion over nearly the whole of 

Celebrated in ecclesiastical History are the 
predictions of S. Columbanus, that the kingdom 
within three years would devolve upon Lothaire ; 
of S. Gerard, that within three years the tyrant 
Uvo would lose his kingdom and his life ; he had 
rebelled against Peter, king of Hungary, and 
Henry, king of Germany, within the time pre 
dicted defeated him, put him to death, and re 
stored Peter. S. Anno, archbishop of Cologne, 
rebuked the emperor Henry II. with great free 
dom, and foretold his death in the following year. 
S. Gregory VII. knew the secret thoughts of 
Hugh, abbot of Cluny, who speaks of it himself. 

* Lib. 10. Ep. 36. 


S. Arnulf, abbot, and afterwards bishop of Sois- 
sons, seriously warned Queen Berta, or Bertrada, 
or rather the concubine of Philip king of France, 
not to drive away the Abbot Gerard from the 
monastery of S. Medand, and against justice to 
put Pontius in the government of that holy place ; 
and in the spirit of prophecy told her that if she 
did this, she should be driven out of the kingdom 
before her death, and die in contempt and 
misery. It so came to pass ; she was expelled 
the kingdom, and transferred to Pontini, where, 
after lengthened misery, she died wretchedly, and 
was buried. We shall not give further instances, 
but refer the reader to the works of Bozio* and 

We shall give some instances only out of the 
Acts of Canonization. We read as follows in the 
Bull of canonization of S. Peter of Alcantara : 
"By the light of prophecy he foretold things most 
remote in time and place." In the Bull of canoni 
zation of S. Francis Xavier : " God had enlight 
ened with the spirit of prophecy His servant whom 
He had given to be a light of the Gentiles." In 
the Bull of canonization of S. Paschal Baylon : 
41 Inspired by the spirit of prophecy, he foretold 
future things, especially the health of the sick, 
the infirmities of the strong, his own and others 
death." In the Bull of canonization of S. Fran- 
cesca Romaiia : " She was able, through the gift 
of heavenly grace, to know the secrets of men s 

* De Sign. Eccles. lib. 6, c. 2. et lib. 4. . 
t De aclmirandis orbis Christian, c. 2, 1. 


hearts." In the Bull of canonization of S. Mary 
Magdalene de Pazzi : " Likewise endowed with 
the spirit of prophecy, she foretold by divine 
revelation future events, and what was said and 
done at a distance, she, as if present, saw and 
heard." In the Bull of canonization of S. Rose of 
Lima: "John Villalobo, of the Society of Jesus, 
deposed on oath that he had himself ascertained 
experimentally that she had the spirit of prophecy, 
for she made known to him a certain secret which 
she could have known only in a heavenly way." 
And then, after relating many other prophecies, it 
continues : " Very many prophecies of this kind, 
and of greater importance, are related of this 
Spouse of Christ." Finally, in the Bull of canoni 
zation of S. Margaret of Cortona : " She shone 
with such great arid wonderful light, as to discover 
the secrets of men s hearts, which belong to God 
alone, and to behold openly the consciences of men, 
and with sorrow and crying to lay open the sins of 
those who were guilty of them in distant places." 
Two prophetic predictions must not be passed 
over in silence, which were discussed in causes of 
canonization, concluded when I was promoter of 
the faith, namely, of S. Pius V., and of S. Catherine 
of Bologna. In the cause of S. Pius V., it was duly 
proved that it was divinely intimated to him, so 
that he knew the day and the hour when the 
Christians defeated the Turkish fleet of Selim, in 
the Gulf of Lepanto, and told it to those who were 
with him. These observed the month, the day, 
and the hour, and when, afterwards, certain 
tidings of the victory were brought, they clearly 


saw that all had happened as Pius had foretold. 
In the cause of S. Catherine of Bologna, it was 
similarly proved that she had foretold that Hanni 
bal Bentivoglio would fight against Philip, duke 
of Milan, and prevail, and afterwards the event 
proved the truth of her prediction ; again, that 
the rojal city of Constantinople would fall, as it 
did, into the hands of Mahomet II., after a siege 
of two months, on the vigil of Pentecost, in 1453, 
that every one might know that the ruin of the 
Greeks was permitted by the just judgment of God, 
because of their blasphemies against the Holy 

It is said, Matth. xi. 13 : " For all the prophets 
and the law prophesied until John," not that the 
gift of prophecy was to cease under the law of 
grace, for it is certain that the Apocalypse was 
revealed to John the Evangelist, after the time of 
John the Baptist. It appears from Acts xi. and 
xxi., that Agabus and the four daughters of Philip 
prophesied, and from 1 Corinth, xiv., and Ephes. 
iv., that there were many prophets in the primitive 
Church. But it is said that all the prophets and 
the law prophesied until John, because until John 
they prophesied and promised Christ and His 
kingdom. But John was the first who preached 
clearly and openly the kingdom, and pointed 
Christ out to the Jews ; in one word, the order of 
the law and prophets ceased in John, because ful 
filled, not destroyed. From this it is concluded 
that there have been, are, and will be, true pro 
phets in the Church, although in the way men 
tioned, the order of the prophets had ceased in 


John, as is observed by Cornelius a Lapide on that 
text, and Noel Alexander, by Thomas a Jesu,* and 
Torreblanca.f It is also the doctrine of S. Tho 
mas, f who, after making an objection from the 
words in S. Matthew : " The law and the prophets 
prophesied until John," thus replies to it : "The 
prophets, who foretold the coming of Christ, could 
continue only until John, who pointed out Christ 
present before him, and yet, as S. Jerome says on 
the place, this is not said to exclude prophets 
that come after John." The subject is treated at 
length by Gonsalvi Durant, bishop of Monte 

2. The grace of prophecy is, as we have said, of 
itself a grace gratis data. In causes of canoniza 
tion and beatification, no account will be made of 
prophecy, but after proof of heroic virtues. After 
proving heroic virtues, prophecy is regarded as be 
stowed by God upon man, as well for the profit of 
others, as for his own illumination, and it furnishes 
means to make proof of sanctity according to the 
doctrine of S. Thomas, || which is explained by 
Silvius, and which we have spoken of in a for 
mer chapter, H and so in the process of beatifi 
cation and canonization, as has been observed 
by Augustinus Triumphus,** Cardinal Bona,ft 

* Opp. Tom. 2, part. 1. qu. 24. f De Magia. lib. 1, c. 1, n. 59. 

t 2. 2dse.qu.174, art. 6. 

De vision, c, 6, p. 18, 19, Tom. 1, ante Revel. S. Brigittse. 

II 2, 2da. qu. 172, art. 4. f C. 45, n. 12, [chap. 6, n. 12,] 

** De Potest. Eccles. qu. 15, art, 4. t+ De Discret. Spirit, c. 17, . 3. 


Scacchus,* Lezana,t Pignatelli,J Cardinal Gottig 
and the Auditors of the Rota in their Report 
in the cause of S. Pius V., of S. Theresa, 
of S. Philip Neri, of S. Mary Magdalene de 
Pazzi, of S. Lewis Bertrand, and of S. Paschal 
Baylon. Neither is it unreasonable that pro 
phecy, as a grace gratis data, should be at times 
bestowed upon sinners, and more frequently on 
the just, as Calmet|| observes : " We readily 
admit that a good and modest life is not neces 
sary as an evidence of true prophecy ; for there 
are well known instances of some most wicked men, 
whom God made use of as instruments to publish 
His oracles, as we have seen in the case of Balaam 
and Caiphas ; but these instances are rare." 
Cardinal BonaH says the same : " For the most 
part, therefore, this gift is bestowed by God upon 
holy men." 

3. If, then, there shall be no doubt concerning 
the piety, holy conversation, and heroic virtues of 
the servant of God, so far as it is possible for man, 
and the postulators undertake to show that God 
had endowed him with the gift of prophecy ; the 
prophecies themselves will be examined. The first 
question will be, have they been conformable to 
piety and Christian truth ? If any one shall have 
foretold what was secret or future, and the event 

* De. Not. et Sign. Sanct. 8, c. 2. 
+ De. Fide, Spe. et charitate, Tom. 3, tr. 4, disp. 4. 

t Consuet. 193, n. 7. 

De vera religione. Tom. 3, c. 11, 3, n. 10. 

V Prolegom. ad Prophet, art, 4, p. 511. 

1T De Discret. Spirit, c. 17, n. 7. 


shall have verified the prediction, but truth and 
piety cannot be found therein, then in that case, 
so far will such an one be from being accounted 
a true prophet, that his goodness will be called in 
question, and an adverse decision must be arrived 
at concerning his sanctity, which has been already 
supported by proofs. This rule is given us by God 
Himself, Deuter. xiii. 1 : "If there arise in the 
midst of thee a prophet, or one that saith he hath 
dreamed a dream, and he foretell a sign and a 
wonder, and that come to pass which he spoke, 
and he say to thee : Let us go and follow strange 
gods, which thou knowest not, and let us serve 
them. Thou shalt not hear the words of that 
prophet or dreamer ; for the Lord your God trieth 
you, that it may appear whether you love him with 
all your heart, and with all your soul, or no. 

Follow the Lord your God, and fear Him And 

that prophet or forger of dreams shall be slain." 
What we have said concerning predictions incon 
sistent with truth and Christian piety, holds good 
also in the case of prophecies of vain and profitless 
matters. It is written, Isai. xlviii. 17 : " Thus 
saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of 
Israel ; I am the Lord thy God, that teach thee 
profitable things, that govern thee in the way that 
thou walkest." And again, 1 Corinth, xiv. 3 : 
" But he that prophesieth, speaketh to men unto 
edification, and exhortation, and comfort." 

Cardinal Cajetan"* enquires, whether all who 
are believed to be prophets, are to be listened to 

* 2. 2de. qu. 174, art. 6. 


in those things which they saj they receive in the 
spirit of prophecy. His reply is this : " Human 
actions are of two kinds, one of which relates to 
public duties, and especially ecclesiastical, such as 
preaching, celebrating Mass, pronouncing judicial 
decisions, and the like ; with respect to these, the 
question is settled in the canon law,* where it is 
said that no credit is to be publicly given to him 
who says he has invisibly received a mission from 
God, unless he confirms it by a miracle or a 
special testimony of Holy Scripture. The other 
human actions are those of private persons, and 
speaking of these, he distinguishes between a pro 
phet who enjoins or advises them, according to the 
universal laws of the Church, and a prophet who 
directs them without reference to those laws ; in 
the first case, every man may abound in his own 
sense, so as to direct his actions according to the 
will of the prophet ; in the second case, the prophet 
is not to be listened to, for good and evil in human 
actions are considered in their agreement or dis 
agreement with divine and human, and especially 
ecclesiastical, laws. To this effect writes the 
Apostle, 1 Thessal. v. 19 : " Extinguish not the 
spirit, despise not prophecies, but prove all things, 
hold fast that which is good." Arauxof illustrates 
the teaching of Cajetan, and with him agrees 
Hurtado.J Calmetgj having cited the text of 
Deuteronomy referred to, thus proceeds : " Our 

* Cap. Cum ex injuncto, tit. de Hseretiois. 
-I- Decis. .Moral, tr. 3, qu. X3, n. 03. 

; !l< ?<il, Moral. p;irt. 1, tr. 5, c. 6, $7. Loc. cit. 

13 VOL. lit. 


Lord Jesus Christ having cautioned us against the 
craft of false prophets, and the workers of false mira 
cles, bids us (Matth. vii. 15.) judge of them by their 
visible works and doctrine. If an angel from 
heaven were to teach otherwise than the Apostles 
did, S. Paul pronounces him anathema, Galat. i. 
8. Miracles are of no force, the fulfilment of ora 
cles is nothing, if they be not in harmony with 
the true and holy doctrine taught by the ancient 

4. Secondly, if there be no grounds for suspi 
cion, and the words of the prophet be in union 
with the doctrine of Christ, of the Apostles, with 
ecclesiastical discipline and the laws of the 
Church, then it will be inquired into, whether the 
predictions were beyond human knowledge, as 
secret thoughts are and future contingencies, 
according to what we have said before. Also, 
whether he who foretold them could have had any 
conjectural knowledge thereof from signs, guesses, 
or experience, Again, whether he revealed the 
future hesitatingly, using such words as "per 
chance," "perhaps," "it may be ;" whether also 
in revealing and foretelling, he made use of human 
reasons in proof of what he said, or, in doing 
this, whether he was subject to any human affec 
tion, as, for instance, the hope, or the possible 
hope, of temporal advantage, or to mental agita 
tion ; and, lastly, whether he truly knew, if not 
all, at least, some of those things of which he pro 
phesied. All these questions must be very mi 
nutely investigated before it can be pronounced 
to have been real prophecy. 


5, This is clear from the unequivocal testimony 
of those who discuss the subject. Calrnet^ says, 
" It belongs to prophecy to make known with a 
certain clear and assured confidence matters 
which are entirely secret, although they have 
no connection otherwise with natural and secon 
dary causes. The astronomer does nothing against 
the laws of nature when he foretells an eclipse 
of the sun, nor the philosopher when he predicts 
certain effects which depend upon causes whose 
existence he has ascertained. But if we hear a 
prophet foretell a certain fortuitous event which 
depends on causes not controlled, and which may 
operate either way, and if it appear also that 
this was revealed by him many ages before ; if 
he have announced the birth of a man, his name, 
victories, acts, and death ; if he announces some 
marvel altogether at variance with the present 
circumstances, then I look upon it as more than 
human, and refer the whole to God." 

Scacchusf also observes upon many of these cir 
cumstances : " And, besides, as often as any such 
prediction is brought forward in the acts of any one 
for consideration, I think the circumstances should 
be considered ; for instance, if the presumed ser 
vant of God made a threatening prediction, and 
especially if he made use of the words, perhaps, 
perchance, peradventure, it may be, and words 
of that kind, which indicate fear of the contrary, 
and show that the words were clearly uttered, 

* Loc. cit. art. 4, p. 509. 
t De not. et Sign. Sanctit. 8, c. 2, p. 503. 


rashly, and without deliberation. What is fore 
told conjecturally from past events or the like, 
or from theories derived from comparing together 
past and subsequent events, this will show that 
the prediction was conjectural, and not from the 
spirit of prophecy. Piety, and the certain re 
putation of sanctity, at least of conduct, are 
the notes and marks of this kind of prophecy in 
the Acts of the servants of God, so far as he 
who prophesies is concerned. Among these notes, 
the chief is contempt of earthly goods and wealth, 
refusal of honour and dignities." 

In the Hebrew commonwealth, there was nothing 
more venerable than the dignity of prophets. 
" They were to them philosophers, wise men, theolo 
gians, prophets, teachers of goodness and piety," 
as S. Augustine* saith. In their expressions there 
is gravity and majesty ; such force and vigour as 
fraud and imposture shall never attain to. In 
their words there is no ambiguity or deceit. 
They rarely had recourse to arguments and other 
artifices of persuasion, but, as the ambassadors 
of God, spoke with a certain commanding gravity 
to princes and people. They, no doubt, were not 
subject to the love of gain, and to the hateful 
thirst for gold ; so far were they from amassing 
riches together, that through love of the work 
they had to do, they forgot what was necessary 
even for the support of life. And if some have 
acted otherwise, they must be numbered, not with 
the true, but with the false prophets ; of whom 

* DeCivit. Dei, lib. 18, c, 41. 


Micheas, iii. 3, saith, " Who have eaten the flesh 
of mj people, and have flayed their skin from 
off them;" and, again, "That bite with their 
teeth, and preach peace ; and if a man give not . 
something into their mouth, they prepare war 
against him," that is, they announce war to him. 
Of the other conditions which we have mentioned, 
there are not wanting authors who speak of them, 
Cardinal Bona* writes : " False prophets speak 
when their minds are disturbed, because they 
cannot endure the assaults of the devil, who 
moves them. But they whom God moves, speak 
with gentleness, humility, and modesty." This he 
confirms by the authority of S. John Chrysos- 
tom,t who says : " It is peculiar to a false pro 
phet to bo disturbed in mind, to suffer violence 
and compulsion, to be driven, to be drawn, to 
be hurried away like a madman. But it is not 
so with the true prophet ; he, in sobriety of mind, 
modestly and temperately, and knowing what he 
says, speaks all things. The priests and women 
who were initiated into the mysteries of the gods, 
had no control over their minds and senses, 
neither could they speak what they willed, but 
were moved to and fro as puppets. But the 
true prophets under the law of God received the 
illapses of the Holy Ghost quietly and calmly ; 
they were self-controlled, their minds were tran 
quil and soreue, they spoke with due reverence 
towards God, and followed the guidance of the 
Heavenly Spirit, as Calmet shows at length. 

Loc, cit. c. 17, 11. 6. I Horn. 20, in 1 Corinth. 


Finally, speaking of the true understanding of 
those things which are foretold, S. Thomas-- in 
quires whether the prophets always understand 
what they prophesy, and his answer is, that in 
prophetic revelation the mind is moved by the 
Holy Ghost, and moved to apprehend something, 
to speak something, and to do something. And 
sometimes towards one, sometimes towards two, 
and sometimes towards these three things ; also, 
that sometimes the mind of the prophet is moved 
to say or do some things with, or without under 
standing what he is saying or doing. 

He then concludes, that when any one knows 
himself to be moved by the Holy Spirit, to point 
out a matter by word or act, this properly belongs 
to prophecy : but when he is moved and knows 
not, then it is not true prophecy, but the pro 
phetic instinct, of which we have spoken already, 
and shall again. 

6. Thirdly, if all those conditions be found 
which are mentioned in the two preceding para 
graphs, in order to pronounce a correct judg 
ment on the subject of prophecy, it is necessary 
to ascertain whether that secret thing which the 
prophet revealed be such as it was revealed, and 
whether the contingent future event occurred in 
the way he foretold it. This rule is derived from 
Deuteronomy xviii. 21., "And if in silent thought 
thou answer : How shall I know the word that 
the Lord hath not spoken ! Thou shalt have this 
sign : Whatsoever that same prophet foretelleth 

* 2. 2dsc, qu. 173, art. 4. 


in the name of the Lord, and it cometh not to 
pass : that thing the Lord hath not spoken, but 
the prophet hath forged it by the pride of his 
mind : and therefore thou shalt not fear him." 

7. There are some limitations to this rule, the 
first is this : if the prophecy was not absolute, but 
containing threatenings only, and tempered by 
conditions, namely, with a condition expressed or 
implied. This kind of prophecy is uttered accord 
ing to the laws of Divine justice, having respect 
to present circumstances and the demerits of men, 
which being changed, God afterwards turns aside 
the evil foretold by the prophet. The subject is 
well explained by Valentia ;* " God is wont to 
reveal by the prophets not only that which, all 
things considered, will take place, but that also 
which, regard being had to inferior causes, as the 
merits of men, may be truly considered as about 
to take place : although by the will of God, and 
all causes considered, it will happen otherwise." 
Vasquez,t in his commentaries on S. Thomas, 
teaches that of this kind are revelations of one s 
own or of another s damnation, that is, they are not 
always absolute, nor to be absolutely understood, 
but are for the most part threatenings, and given 
by God for this end, that sinners through terror 
at such a sentence may be converted. But if 
any one requires instances of prophecies which 
were not absolute, we have one in the history of 
Jonas, who was sent by God to the Ninevites, and 

* Aualys. Fidei Catholic, lib 8, c. 5, p 76. 
1 1. "2dx. D. Thorn. Tom i, qu. J19, art 10, c. 3. 


said : "Yet forty days and Niaeve shall be de 
stroyed," and of Isaias, who said to Ezechias, king 
of Juda, who was sick unto death, " Thou shalt 
die, and not live." Is. xxxviii. 1. Neither of 
these events took place, but the prophets did not 
prophesy falsely, for their prophecies were not 
absolute but conditional, depending on the most 
grave circumstances of the illness of king Ezechias 
and the sins of the Ninevites; when those circum 
stances changed, and those sins were repented of, 
God averted what the prophets had foretold, as 
He openly testified lie would do in those prophe 
cies which contain threatenings : saying, Jerem. 
xviii. 7, " I will suddenly speak against a nation, 
and against a kingdom, to root out and pull down, 
and to destroy it. If that nation against which I 
have spoken, shall repent of their evil, I also will 
repent of the evil that I have thought to do to 

S. Thomas* treats of these prophecies which 
contain threatenings and are conditional, as does 
also Cardinal Cajetan,t who says that a prophet 
to whom a future event is revealed in its causes, 
evidently knows that it will take place from 
those causes, but that it is not necessary he should 
know whether it must result from those causes, 
and in virtue of that prophetic knowledge, it may 
remain doubtful to his mind whether it will take 
place or not : it is sufficient for a true prophet to 
know evidently that he prophesies of that which 
is revealed to him, though he knows not the rest. 

* "2. 2daL>. qu. 1 71. art. f<. f in -. 2dae. qu. 171, art. 4. 


So Silvius* well observes in his commentaries on 
S. Thomas. Savonarola, in the compendium of 
Revelations referred to, says, that neither Jonas 
nor Isaias were false prophets, when the latter 
threatened Ezechias with death, and the former 
announced the destruction of Nineve after forty 
days, though neither the one nor the other event 
took place : for the sins of Nineve deserved that 
it should be destroyed, and the bodily condition 
of Ezechias was such, that death was at hand, and 
could not be escaped in a natural way. But a 
prophet instructed by God ought to obey God 
simply, and to announce future events as God 
commands him. The subject is fully treated 
by Viguier.f 

8. S. Thomast having said that it is not per 
fect prophecy, but the prophetic instinct, when 
a man is moved by God, and knows not that it 
is God Who moves him, makes this golden ob 
servation : There is no contradiction in this that 
the revelation should be true and from God, and 
the human explanation of it false, for man may 
interpret it otherwise than God understands it. 
Lewis the Younger, king of France, made known 
to the princes of the realm his desire of proceed 
ing to the Holy Land, and sought their consent ; 
they determined to refer the matter to S. Ber 
nard, the abbot. The abbot was sent for, and 
he thought that a matter of such moment should 
be referred to the decision of the Pontiff, The 

* Tom. 3, 2. 2dae. qu. 171. art. 6. 

t Inst. Theolo. tit. de gratia, c. 9, ? 1, vcrs. 2, versus fincm. 
* 2. 2dae. qu. 173, art. 4. 


Pope, Eugenius, greatly praised and approved of 
it, and gave him authority to preacli and Arouse 
the minds of all, for he was looked upon as an 
apostle or prophet by all the people of France 
and Germany. Wherefore, not only in the em 
pire, but in the neighbouring kingdoms, in Wes 
tern France, England, and Hungary, people and 
nations were stirred up to assume the cross, and 
enrol themselves in that sacred army, as Otho* 
tells us at length. The expedition, which was 
confirmed by signs and miracles, came to a 
disastrous end, and the Christian soldiers per 
ished, defeated by the infidels, by the just judg 
ment of God, and S. Bernard, whom before all 
men honoured exceedingly, was condemned as an 
impostor and a false prophet. He| thus writes 
on the subject : " If one of two things must take 
place, then I prefer that men should murmur 
against us, and not against God. It is, good for 
me that He is pleased to use me as a shield. I 
am ready to receive all the biting reproaches of 
my accusers. We said peace, and there was no 
peace; we promised good things, but behold con 
fusion." He then says in his own defence : " As 
if we had acted with rashness or levity in the 
matter. We went forward openly in it, not as 
if it were a doubtful matter, at thy bidding, 
namely, Eugenius the Pope, or rather at the 
bidding of God through thee." Then stating the 
reproaches of the people ; " Whence can we know 
that the word has gone forth from our Lord ; what 

* Lib. 1, de Fide, c. 34. f De Consider, lib. 2, c, 2. 


miracles dost thou do that we may believe thee ?" 
He answers as follows, addressing Eugenius : " It 
is not for me to reply to this, spare me. Answer 
thou for me, and for thyself according to what 
thou hast seen and heard." In these words he 
modestly admits that he had wrought miracles 
in confirmation of his preaching. No question 
could, or can be raised as to the truth of the 
revelation and prophecy, but the most high and 
unchangeable truth of God was not understood 
by man ; the counsel of men was one thing, that 
of God another ; men had proposed to themselves 
as their object the subjugation of Jerusalem, for 
their thoughts are of the earth, glory, and wealth, 
and God, the eternal salvation of those who, in 
that expedition, had died for the faith and the 
Church. John,* the venerable abbot of Casamare, 
made the matter known to S. Bernard in a letter, 
in which he writes thus : " I have been informed, 
my most dear brother, that thou art greatly 
grieved at this affair I speak of the expedition 
to Jerusalem that it has not prospered accord 
ing to thy wish, and that the Church and glory 
of God have not increased as thou desiredst." 
Then saying that the matter succeeded not ac 
cording to the wishes of men, but the counsel of 
God, he thus proceeds : " But do not doubt what 
I am going to say, I make it known as to my 
spiritual father in confession. The patrons of 
this place of ours, the Blessed John and Paul, 
have frequently visited us, and I have questioned 

* Ep. !JSti, apud. S. Bernard. 


them on this subject ; they replied and said, that 
a multitude of angels who have fallen had been 
restored in the persons of those who fell thero." 
Cardinal Bona* applies this fact of S. Bernard 
to confirm the subject of which we are now treat 
ing. Gravina,t in discussing how false visions and 
revelations may be discerned from the true, vin 
dicates the prediction or prophecy of S. Vincent 
Ferrer, concerning the end of the world and the 
coming of antichrist. S. Antoninus, | too, may be 
consulted on the subject of that prophecy. 

9. We have said above, that prophecy is not 
given as a habit, and from this comes a limitation 
of the third rule, that it is possible for an other 
wise true prophet to foretell what shall not come 
to pass, that is, to believe himself to be speaking 
by revelation from God, when in truth he was 
speaking by the prophetic instinct. Otho, to 
whom we have referred before, usually not dis 
posed to be favourable to S. Bernard, in order to 
excuse the miserable issue of that expedition, 
says among other things, that the spirit of pro 
phecy is not always subject to the prophets. The 
question is better explained by S. Gregory, || who 
says, " The spirit of prophecy, Peter, does not 
always illumine the minds of the prophets, for 
as it written of the Holy Ghost, The spirit 
breatheth where He will, so we must learn that 

He also inspires when He will, this Almighty 

God bestows of His own goodness, for when Ho 

* De Discret. Spirit c. 17. t Lib. 2, c. 4, p. 91. 

t Part 4, llistor. tit. . 3, c. 23, c. 8, 3. 
D3 Gest. Frederic, c. 60. I! Dialog. lib. - , c. 21. 


sometimes gives the spirit of prophecy, sometimes 
He withdraws it, and raises up the minds of those 
who prophesy, and also humbles them, that they 
who receive the spirit of prophecy may find what 
they are in God, and they again from whom it 
is withdrawn may learn what they are in them 
selves." In another place* he confirms this, say 
ing, " Sometimes, indeed, the spirit of prophecy 
fails the prophets, and it is not always present 
with them." And again, " Sometimes the pro 
phets while they are consulted, by reason of their 
frequent prophesying, speak in their own spirit, 
thinking that they are speaking in the spirit of 

S. Thomasf weighs the subject in the scales 
of theology, saying that the minds of prophets 
are instructed by God in two ways ; one of ex 
press revelation, the other of most secret in 
stinct, which is sometimes felt by the mind 
when it is ignorant of it. He adds, that the pro 
phet has the greatest evidence of those things 
which are revealed to him, and not of other things 
which he knows instinctively, for he cannot tell 
whether he thought of these things through a 
divine instinct or of himself, neither are all that 
he knows through the divine instinct evident to 
him by prophetic evidence. Such an instinct is 
an imperfect kind of prophecy, as we have already 
stated at some length. 

10. This is true, and is well explained by Fa 
ther Baldelli, in the words cited in the foregoing 

* Horn. 1, in Ezekiel, n. 15. t 2. 2dse. qu. 171, art. 5, 


chapter. But in order to cut off all grounds for 
doubt in the discussion of causes of beatification 
and canonization, some observations must be fur 
ther made. Speaking of threatening and condi 
tional prophecies, we must know that they do not 
regard past or present things, but future only, and 
which depend on the merits and sins of men, as 
Thyrseus* explains at length, and Suarez.f Mel- 
chior Canoj teaches that the threatening prophe 
cies, as such, were clearly understood by the 
prophets, and at the same time, under changed 
circumstances, that they would not be accom 
plished. " We may answer more concisely, those 
were threatening prophecies, as the schoolmen say, 
since the prophets understood this for prophecy 
requires understanding they were not deceived. 
Yea, rather discharging their duty in good faith, 
they thought, nevertheless, that upon a change of 
life, the threatenings also would be changed ; for 
that cause it was that Jonas refused to announce 
the destruction of Nineve, because he thought that 
the Ninevites, by doing penance, would conciliate 
the Divine mercy." Thyrseus says that some 
prophets did not understand the absolute will of 
God in similar circumstances, which depend on 
the conduct of men, and that others understood it, 
or might have understood it, from one or many 

But be this as it may, when it is uncertain, 
ponding a cause of beatification and canonization, 

De Apparition, lib. 4, c. 14. t De Fide, disp. 8, 4, n. P. 

t Loc. Theol. lib. 2, c. 4, ad. test. 


whether the servant of God was, or was not, a true 
prophet, and there is no divine testimony of his 
having received the gift of prophecy, it seems that 
no account can be possibly made of a threatening 
prophecy, unless it can be shown that the servant 
of God understood the meaning of the prophecy, 
and its issues. Wherefore, if the prophecy of the 
destruction of a city be alleged, it will have to be 
proved, that the prophet not only knew that the 
city should, or should not be destroyed, on account 
of the penance or the obstinacy of its inhabitants, 
but that it was to be utterly destroyed, because the 
inhabitants would not do penance ; or, on the other 
hand, that it should not be destroyed, because the 
inhabitants would do penance, and the event plainly 
corresponded with the prediction. Wherefore Gra- 
vina* says : " With reference to these threatenings, 
observe, that God in two ways announces through 
prophets prosperity and adversity ; one, revealing 
their change to whom the prophecy is directed, 
for whom, or against whom, it is uttered ; by the 
other, not revealing it. If the revelation is made 
in the first manner, the prophets will be certain 
that the sentence will not be changed ; in the 
second, if it be not revealed, that the sentence will 
be changed, it will remain uncertain whether God 
will change it. It is necessary, therefore, that 
the sign foretold be certain and effectual, that it 
may be clearly seen, also, that the sentence will 
not be changed ; otherwise, if the announcement 
be made without that revelation, deception will be 

* Lapis. Lydius. lib. 2, c. 23. 


tho result, in announcing that, with respect to 
which there is no revelation of mutability or 
immutability ; whence it is, that when they who 
make themselves prophets, foretell any one s death, 
and the like, which afterwards do not take place, 
they ought to be equally certain that the change 
of the sentence had been revealed to them. With 
this agrees Picus*, who says that the falsity of a 
prophecy is then discovered, when a person 
announces what is certain conditionally, or what 
is conditional absolutely, no regard being had to 
those conditions which are essential to a prophecy 
which contains threatenings. 

11. After this, that we may come to prophecies, 
in which the prophet does not understand the 
revelation according to the mind of God ; from 
which it follows that the event foretold by him 
does not correspond, I believe that we may, with 
some qualification, proceed safely. Though, from 
what has been said, there is no inconsistency, that 
a prophecy should be true, and from God, and the 
human explanation thereof false, because man may 
interpret it differently from the way in which God 
understands it, as is evident in the case of S. Ber 
nard. However, that no error should creep in, 
I believe that similar prophecies, to the purpose 
and effect of which we are speaking, ought not to 
be admitted, unless God had been pleased to mark 
their true character by miracles ; miracles, I say, 
subsequent to the prophetical prediction ; then, 
indeed, are they signs of the word of God, as 

* Lib. 9, c. 5. 


Thyrseus* well explains. And that this was the 
case with the prophecy of S. Bernard, we learn 
from Geoffrey! the monk, in his Life, who relates 
not only the preceding, but also the subsequent 
miracles. For after making known the counsel of 
God in that crusade, in unison with what we have 
cited from the letter of the venerable abbot of Casa- 
mare : " But if it pleased God on that occasion to 
deliver, if not the bodies of many of the East from 
the power of the heathen, yet the souls of many of 
the West from sin, who will dare to say to him : 
Why hast thou done this? Or who, truly wise, 
does not grieve more over those who have returned 
to their former sins, or to sins perhaps even worse, 
than for their death who gave up their souls to 
Christ, purged in the fruits of penance, by diverse 
tribulation" he says that the truth and divinity of 
the revelation and prophecy were attested by many 
miracles. "He preached openly this word" he 
speaks of S. Bernard " our Lord working withal, 
and confirming the word with signs that followed. 
But what and how manifold were the signs ? It 
would be difficult to number them, not to speak of 
recording them. They began to be committed to 
writing, but the numerousness of them, and the 
matter, were too much for the capacity of the 
writer ; for sometimes in one day twenty persons 
or more were cured of diverse infirmities, and 
scarcely a day passed over without such signs. 
Lastly, Christ, by the touch and prayer of His 
servant, made many who were blind from their 

De Apparition, lib. 4, c. 18, n. 13. t Lib. 3, c. 4, n. 9, 10. 

14 VOL. in. 


mother s womb to see, the lame to walk, the 
withered strong, the deaf to hear, the dumb to 
speak ; grace more wonderfully supplying what 
nature had left imperfect." Geoffrey adds, that 
on that very day, when the news came of the 
destruction of the Christian army, God wrought 
a miracle at the intercession of S. Bernard. " It 
came to pass, however, that when the lamentable 
tidings of the destruction of the Crusaders re- 
sounded through France, a father brought his blind 
boy to the servant of God, to have sight restored to 
him, and, by many prayers, prevailed on the saint 
who declined. The saint, placing his hand on the 
child, prayed to our Lord that He would be pleased 
to make known, by restoring sight to the child, 
whether the preaching of the Crusade was from 
Him, and whether His spirit was with himself. 
While, after praying, he was waiting its effects, 
the child said, what am I to do ? for I see then 
a great shout was raised by those who were pro- 
sent ; for many were present, not of the monks 
only, but of people living in the world, who, when 
they perceived that the boy saw, were greatly 
comforted, and gave thanks to God." 

12. It remains now to speak of those who pro 
phesy in the prophetic instinct, and whose prophe 
cies, therefore, are sometimes not fulfilled. In 
order that the servant of God whose beatification 
and canonization is under discussion should not 
only be defended with reference to these prophe 
cies, but also be held to have truly prophesied, 
it is necessary that proof may be had of his cor 
rection. S. Gregory, having said that holy pro- 


pbets, through the frequent practice of prophesy 
ing, predict some things of themselves, and believe 
that they are therein influenced by the spirit 
of prophecy, adds, that between true and false 
prophets there is this difference : " True prophets, 
if at any time they utter anything of them 
selves, quickly correct it, instructed through the 
hearers by the Holy Ghost. But false prophets 
both utter falsehoods, and, strangers to the Holy 
Ghost, persevere in their falsehood." We have 
an instance of this in Nathan, a most famous 
prophet of the Lord, who flourished when David 
was king of Israel, and was exceedingly inti 
mate with him. David was thinking of building 
the temple of the Lord, and Nathan, as we read 
in 2 Kings vii. 3, said to him, " Go, do all that is 
in thy heart, because the Lord is with thee." But 
that very night the Lord commanded the prophet 
to return to the king, and say that the glory of 
building the temple was reserved not for him, but 
for his son. This part of the subject is discussed 
at great length by Cajetan,* and also by Fuce- 
chio, a Friar Minor, in his Reply to Leonard, an 
Augustinian, in the cause of Jerome Savonarola.t 
13. Some things were to, have been added here 
concerning the suspension of the senses, which 
sometimes happens to prophets, and which takes 
place together with a certain derangement of na 
ture ; and which therefore shows that their pro 
phesying is not from God ; but this will be treated 
of below when we speak of ecstasies and raptures. 

* 2. 2dse. qu. 171, art. 5. f Vit. Tom, 2, p. r.s. 




1. DISCERNING of spirits may be explained in 
two ways ; the first is, that it is the knowledge 
of the thoughts of the heart, as S. Thomas* 
explains, when he teaches that the grace of pro 
phecy and the grace of discerning of spirits are 
for the confirmation of the faith, making manifest 
those things which God alone knows. Such 
are contingent events with which prophecy is 
conversant, and the secrets of hearts, with which 
the discerning of spirits is conversant. If the 
discerning of spirits be understood in this way, 
it will be one and the same thing with prophecy, 
with this single difference, that prophecy, by a 
figure of speech called antonomasia, will be ap 
plied to the knowledge of future events, and the 
discerning of spirits will be the knowledge of 
the thoughts of the heart, as Suarez well ob- 

2. Secondly, discerning of spirits is a certain 
judgment by which a man rightly discriminates 
between various movements, respecting which 
doubts may arise from what spirit they proceed, 

*1. 2dse. qu. Ill, art. 3. 
t Tom. 1. de gratia, proleg. 4, c. 5, n. 36. 


whether good or bad, when we are moved to 
do or teach anything, whether interiorly and in 
an invisible way, or exteriorly, by men teaching 
and advising, or by angels sensibly speaking and 
appearing ; whether this happens to a man in his 
own self, or in others, for the general good of 
the Church. In this second acceptation that S. 
John Chrysostom* explains the gift of discerning 
spirits: "What is meant by discerning spirits? 
To know who is spiritual, who is not spiritual, 
who a prophet, who a deceiver." Cardinal 
Bonaf accepts this explanation, saying, " Others 
more correctly teach that discerning spirits con 
sists in a special motion of the Holy Ghost to 
discriminate between various movements, from 
what spirit they proceed, good or evil, whether 
they have reference to morals or teaching, whe 
ther a man be moved interiorly and invisibly, or 
exteriorly, by men teaching and advising, or by 
angels sensibly speaking or appearing. This is 
the grace of discernment of spirits, which is the 
seventh among the graces gratis datce enumerated 
by the Apostle, which the Holy Ghost gives not 
to all, but to whom and when He wills, for the 
discerning of spirits, not only in themselves, but 
also in others, for the common profit of the 
Church." In this he is followed by Suarez.J 

3. Gersong states the difficulty of discriminat 
ing between a good and an evil spirit. " There 
is a spirit which is God, a spirit which is a good 

* Horn, 59. in 1 Corinth, t De Discret. Spirit, c. 2, n. 2. 

% Loc. cit. n. 38. De Probat. Spirit, torn. 1, col. 42. 


angel, a spirit which is a bad angel, a spirit 
which is human, as well rational as animal. A 
like vision may be caused by any one of these 
spirits in its own way, and each very different 
from the other. But this likeness does not easily 
allow this diversity to be perceived by those 
who have no experience in the matter, who nei 
ther of themselves, by the force of their pene 
tration, nor by theological learning or physical 
science, nor the instruction of others, know how 
to discriminate between them. In truth, we must 
not be surprised at this, for there are but few 
who fully know how to distinguish between the 
thoughts and affections of the rational soul, as 
it is rational, and those which are animal, namely, 
in the senses and the organ of the imagination. 
Whom can you find, I ask you, among those who 
fear God and avoid sin, who always, and in all 
things, clearly sees when temptations assail him, 
if the sense of them be only in the imagination, 
or consent to them in the reason ? It is not so 
easy to distinguish between feeling and consent. 
How much greater, then, is the difficulty of as 
certaining the operation of that fourfold spirit 
already spoken of, when a certain instinct or 
strong inspiration influences the mind, whether 
it be from God, or a good or an evil angel, or 
from the spirit of man. Again, there are two 
parts, the higher and the lower. The perfect 
apprehension of this division we have in the 
word of God, which reaches to the division of 
the soul and spirit, Hebr. vi. 12. Such a division 
she felt in herself, who said, My soul doth 


magnify the Lord, and then, discriminating be 
tween the spirit and the soul, added, and my 
spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 

4. There are two ways by which the discern 
ing of spirits may be attained to, either by the 
rules which the ascetic and mystic fathers, or con 
templative theologians have laid down, which are 
to be learned by human industry and toil ; this, 
properly and strictly speaking, does not pertain 
to the grace gratis data of discerning of spirits ; 
or by a special instinct and motion of the Holy 
Ghost, whereby man, without human industry, 
discerns spirit from spirit, and this is it which 
belongs to the aforesaid grace, as Cardinal de 
Laursea* well observes. "Consider, that besides 
the grace gratis data of discerning spirits infused 
by God, there is an art and way of discerning 
them, which is of human prudence. So the 
ascetic and mystic fathers, or contemplative theo 
logians, give many rules for discerning spirits, 
or thoughts, whether our own or those of others. 
Therefore, it is a marvel to me, that some con 
found these two methods of discerning spirits, 
thinking that the former is identical with that 
grace gratis data of which we speak with S. 
Paul ; for this is not acquired by human industry 
and toil, but is bestowed by God upon man not 
even thinking of it. This is infallible, but riot so 
the human method." 

The gift of discerning spirits is therefore nothing 
else but an enlightening of the mind, with which 

* 3 Sent. lorn. 4, dist. It), art, lo. 2, n. U6l. 


man being endowed, easily and without error 
decides from what source his own thoughts and 
those of others, which are subjects of choice, pro 
ceed, what is suggested by a good, or evil spirit. 
This grace, too, like the rest, which are gratis date, 
were habitual in Christ alone, as theologians com 
monly teach, to others it is given only actually, 
and by transient motions, to some rarely, to others 
frequently, the divine grace breathing when and 
how it wills, as Cardinal de Laursea shows in the 
place just referred to. It is given, namely, with 
respect to its primary and internal end, not for 
the sanctification of the recipient, but for the 
edification of others. Thus grace gratis data 
may be found even in the wicked ; but as the 
infusion of supernatural light necessary for it 
requires tranquillity and inward peace, which can 
not be in a mind disturbed by earthly affections, 
hence it is that for the most part it is to be found 
only in the just, as it is said by Cardinal Bona.* 

5. Cardinal Bona gives instances of saints upon 
whom God hath bestowed the grace gratis data 
of discerning spirits. It is mentioned in the 
Reports of the Auditors of the Rota in the 
causes of S. Peter of Alcantara and S. Philip 
Neri. And when I was promoter of the faith, 
I candidly admitted in my animadversions in 
the cause of the servant of God, Alfonso de 
Orosco, that he was divinely gifted with this 
grace gratis data, on the authority of Cardi 
nal Bona,f who thus speaks of him : " The ven- 

* De discrt t. Spirit, c. 2, n. 4. t Loc. cit. c. 5, n. 2. 


erable Alfonso de Orosco, Augustinian, imbued 
with the same spirit, couid never be brought to 
speak to Magdalen of the Cross of Cordova ; the 
fame of whose extraordinary life had filled the 
whole world : at last it became known that she 
was deluded by the spirit of pride. The same 
thing occurred in the case of a Portuguese nun, 
who showed the stigmata in her hands, feet, and 
sides, but they were false. Peter of Pedrola, whom 
all men respected as a prophet, he would not admit 
to an interview, though in other respects a most ac 
cessible man : Peter afterwards underwent the last 
punishment by the sentence of the supreme tribu 
nal of the Faith." And though I said in those ani 
madversions that no account should be made of 
that grace gratis data in order to arrive at a safe 
decision respecting his virtues, yet the postu- 
lators well replied, and the sacred congregation 
admitted the reply, that it was to be taken into 
the account when heroic virtues had been proved 
from other sources. 

6. The grace of diverse kinds of tongues is in 
ferior to the grace of prophecy, as the Apostle 
says, 1 Corinth, xiv. 5, " Greater is he that pro- 
phesieth than he that speaketh with tongues." 
By this grace man does not attain to speak foreign 
languages with grace and elegance, but only to 
speak it in the ordinary way, so as to be un 
derstood by others, and so as to understand others 
himself. For it is given for the good of others, 
namely, for the propagation of the faith ; for this 
purpose it is not necessary to be versed in the 
refinements of the language, but it is sufficient 


to know the common language of the nation. We 
learn from Acts ii. 2, that the grace of diverse 
kinds of tongues was bestowed upon the Apostles : 
" And suddenly there came a sound from heaven 
as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the 
whole house where they were sitting ; and there 
appeared to them parted tongues as it were of 
fire, and it sat upon every one of them ; and they 
were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they 
began to speak with diverse tongues, according 
as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now 
there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout 
men, out of every nation under heaven ; and 
when this was noised abroad, the multitude ga 
thered together, and were confounded in mind, 
because that every man heard them speak in his 
own tongue. And they were all amazed and won 
dered, saying : Behold, are not all these that 
speak, Galileans ? And how have we heard every 
man our own tongue wherein we were born ? 
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabi 
tants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, 
Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphilia, Egypt, 
and the parts of Lybia about Gyrene, and strangers 
of Rome, Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and 
Arabians : we have heard them speak in our own 
tongues the wonderful works of God. And they 
were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to 
another: What meaneth this? It pleased 
the Divine Wisdom to propagate the faith of 
Christ over the whole earth by those men, whose 
education, and habits, speech, and writing, were 
simple, in order that in so great a work nothing 


might be attributed to human eloquence and au 
thority ; hence we infer that the grace of diverse 
kinds of tongues does not extend to this, that a 
man shall speak foreign languages with elegance 
and grace. Whence the Apostle says, 1 Corinth. 
i. 21, "It pleased God, by the foolishness of our 
preaching, to save them that believe ;" and again, 
" The foolish things of the world hath God chosen 
...that no flesh should glory in His sight." Again, 
ii. 1, " I came not in loftiness of speech or wis 
dom ;" and again, " My speech and my preaching 
was not in the persuasive words of human wis 

7. Doctors dispute by what means, and how it 
came to pass, that the Apostles, while speaking, 
were understood by all. This grace may be com 
municated in two ways ; one relative to the 
hearers ; the other to the speakers. Either the 
Apostles, while preaching, spoke once and in one 
language, and were understood by those who 
hear of different languages, or the different 
languages and the knowledge of them were in 
fused into the Apostles, and they had the gift 
of speaking in them all, not at once, but in 
succession, and as the occasion required. This 
question is examined by S. Thomas,* who shows 
it was necessary that the gift of tongues 
should be bestowed by God on the Apostles 
when they were sent to teach others, and were 
poor, so that it would have been difficult for 
them to find those who could interpret their 

* a.2dae. qu. 176, art. 1. 


words faithfully to others, or the words of others 
to them. Then he proposes this objection, that 
God could have accomplished this, that they, 
speaking in one language; might have been un 
derstood by all, and so they had no power of 
speaking all languages, to which he replies thus : 
"We reply, although either might have been the 
case, namely, that they, speaking one language, 
might have been understood by all, or that they 
should speak in every language ; yet it were more 
fitting that they should speak in every language, 
for this was of the perfection of their knowledge, 
whereby they were able not only to speak, but also 
to understand what others said. But if all un 
derstood, then, one language, this would have 
been the case either through their knowledge who 
understood them when they spoke, or would have 
been, and was, an illusion, while the words of 
others reached their ears otherwise than they 
issued forth from those who uttered them." ^ 

8. The explanation of S. Thomas is borne out 
by the words of S. Paul, 1. Corinth, xiv. 18, "I 
thank my God, I speak with all your tongues." 
And also by an argument alleged by the same 
doctor, that this was not only necessary that the 
hearers might understand the words of the Apos 
tles, but also that the Apostles might understand 
the infidels while speaking to them, reply to their 
questions, and solve their difficulties. To this 
opinion of the holy doctor, Suarez,* Scacchus,t 

*Tom. 1, (k gratia. Prolegom. 3, c. 6, n. 47 35. 
t De not. et si#n. sanctit. 5- 8, c. (!. 


Viguier,* the Fathers of Salamancat and Thyrseus, J 
assent, and all admit that it was possible, and per 
haps was the case, that at times the Apostles, ac 
cording to circumstances, spoke in one language, 
and were understood by all, though they may been 
of different languages. In this they are followed 
by Matthaeucci.g Silvius, in his commentaries on 
the passage of S. Thomas just cited, speaks thus : 
" It is not to be denied that it may sometimes 
have happened that while one was speaking in 
one language, his hearers of different languages 
understood him, as when Peter spoke in a loud 
voice to a miscellaneous crowd,. ..But we say that 
this was granted not to the Apostles only and to 
the saints ; yea, rather, we think we may main 
tain that they spoke in diverse tongues, according 
as they were to whom it was necessary for them 
to speak." 

9. Christ our Lord beyond all doubt had the 
most perfect knowledge of all languages, but it 
was not necessary for Him to speak in all, for He 
had come to preach to one nation only, namely, 
the Jewish, as S. Thomas|| observes, and Bozio.f 
Silvius explains S. Thomas, and says it is ex 
tremely probable that Christ our Lord publicly, 
and in His sermons, spoke in no other language 
than that which was familiar to the Jews, seeing 

* Instit. Theolog. de gratia, c. 9, vers. 8. 
t Curs. Theolog. Tom. 3, arb. pradicam. 17, n. 168. 

% De apparit. Vocali, lib 2, c. 14. 

Pract. Theologo-Canon. tit. 3, c. 3, art. 2. 22 5, n. 55-62. 
II Loc. cit. t De Sign. Eccles. lib. 6, sign 22, c. 5, n. 1. 


that He came to preach to them only ; but that 
privately, as occasion required, he made use of 
diverse languages when He spoke to the Gentiles 
in Egypt ; that in speaking to the multitude of 
different nations, John xii., and in addressing the 
tribune and Roman soldiery, with the chief priests, 
the magistrates of the temple, and the elders, John 
xviii., Luke xxii., although He spoke in the Sy- 
riac tongue, then familiar to the Hebrews, He was 
understood by all, though they did not understand 
the Syriac tongue. Not the Apostle only, but 
many others, have received from God the grace 
gratis data of diverse kinds of tongues for the 
profit and edification of the faithful. Bagatta* has 
made a collection of instances of this kind. 

We will here, however, give some particulars, 
from which it may be seen that this grace of which 
we are speaking has been bestowed by God after 
the first as well as the second form upon some of 
His servants. In the life of S. Sophia or Cadoc, bi 
shop of Benevento, and martyr, published by the 
Bollandists,t we read as follows : " At length 
Cadoc going to Jerusalem visited the holy places : 
to him our Lord gave the knowledge of the lan 
guages of the different nations through whom he 
passed, and he began to speak with diverse 
tongues:" in the life of S. Teiloj Bishop of Landaff, 
we read : " Seeing the love of the word of God 
burning in their hearts, and being ignorant of 

* De admirandis Orbis Christian. Tom 2, p. 153. 

t Act. SS. Jan. 24, Tom 2, c. 1, p. 604. 
I Act. SS. Feb. 9, Tom 2, c. 2, n. 8, p. 309. 


their language, he was wonderfully afflicted and 
distressed. In order to satisfy the people who be- 
seeched him, and their earnest desire, he began to 
expound the holy Scriptures, and every one heard 
him speak in his own language." The same Author 
relates that the same gift was bestowed upon his 
companions, S. David and S. Paternus, "Then 
rose up David and Paternus, and preached to the 
people, every one understanding them perfectly 
in his own tongue." 

In the Passion of the twenty holy martyrs* of 
the Laura of S. Saba, is related how one of them 
was anxious to learn Greek, that he might read 
the Holy Scriptures, and could not. " But falling 
asleep, he was visited by one of the holy fathers, 
Anastasius, the proto-deacon, whom we have 
spoken of before, who had been intimate with 
this father, and inquired the cause of his sad 
ness. He made known to him his slowness in 
learning ; the saint smiled, and said, open thy 
mouth and put forth thy tongue ; he took hold of 
it, and drawing forth a new cloth, rubbed it 
and wiped it, clearing away a certain thick and 
slimy clammy substance. He then disappeared, 
and at the same time the priest, who was asleep, 
awoke. He corroborated this, for he perceived in 
himself so great a facility in understanding that 
language, and his tongue so ready both in speaking 
and learning, that he was a wonder to himself, 
and was astonished at God s care of him, and the 
favour of the saints." 

* Act, SS. Ittar, 20, c. 7, n. 73, p. 17o. 


We read in the Parlipomena* to the Lives of 
S. Pacomius and Theodoras, that Theodoras, de 
sirous of correcting a certain Roman who spoke 
Latin and Greek which he was ignorant of him 
self, being acquainted only with the Egyptian 
language prayed to God for three hours that he 
might be able to help the brother ; that then a 
writing came down from heaven, and when he 
had read it, he learned the languages of all nations ; 
and when he went to the brother, it is added by 
the author, that he spoke both Greek and Latin 
without any mistake, to the surprise of the bro 
ther. S. Antoninusf speaks thus of S. Vincent 
Ferrer : "This was astonishing, and an apos 
tolical grace, that preaching in Catalonia in the 
common language of the country, he was under 
stood by other nations who knew it not." Henry 
Spondanus,J in his continuation of the Annals of 
Baronius, speaks to the same effect : " In this 
excelling all preachers since the days of the Apos 
tles, that while preaching in his native tongue 
of Catalonia, he was understood by foreigners who 
knew it not, and was audible, not only to those 
who were near him, but to those most distant 
from him, by the learned and unlearned, by the 
noble and the vulgar ; and although his sermons 
were sometimes long, yet no one was wearied by 

In the Report in the cause of S. Francis Xavier, 
the Auditors of the Rota thus speak : " Xavier was 

* Act. SS. Mai. 14, c. 3. 
t Summ. Histor. 3, part. tit. 23, c, 8, 4. t Ad Ann. 1403, n. 7. 


illustrious for the gift of tongues, for he spoke 
with elegance and fluency the languages, which 
he had never learnt, of different nations, to whom 
he went for the sake of preaching the Gospel, just 
as if he had been born and bred among them ; 
and it happened not unfrequently, that while he 
was preaching, men of diverse nations heard him 
speak each in his own language." Thomas Bozio* 
relates the same thing of S. Lewis Bertrand. 
Among the letters of S. Francis Xavier published 
by Father Horace Tursellini after the Saint s Life 
is one in which he thus speaks of himself : " God 
grant that we may as soon as possible learn tho 
language of Japan, in order to make known the 
divine mysteries ; then we shall zealously pro 
secute our Christian work. For now we are 
among them like a mute statue. For they speak 
and discuss much about us, but we are silent, 
ignorant of the language of the country. At pre 
sent we are become a child again to learn the 
elements of this language." Jacob Picenino infers 
from these words that he was not endowed with the 
gift of tongues. But Cardinal Gottif vigorously 
refutes him, for the saint at one time might not 
have been able to speak languages, and after 
wards might have received from God the gift of 
tongues, as was the case with the Apostles, upon 
whom the gift of tongues was divinely bestowed, not 
immediately when they were called to the Aposto- 
late, but when the Holy Ghost descended upon 

* De sign. Eccles. lib. 0, sign. 22, c. 5, n. 3. 

t De Yera Ecclesia, c. 2, 4, n. 44. 
15 VOL. in. 


10. There seems to be no question that similar 
results, God permitting it, may proceed from the 
devil ; for he can, while moving the organs of 
speech, so move them as to pronounce any 
language he pleases ; and he can also so form 
the air as to carry words to the ears of the hearers 
which the speaker utters not. S. Jerome, in the 
Life of S. Hilarion, speaks of a certain person 
given to melancholy, who spoke Syriac before he 
was cured by him, by driving away the devil. 
And it is a thing well known, that there is not a 
more certain sign of diabolical obsession than for 
a woman, or a rustic and unlearned man, to dis 
pute about theological mysteries, of which, before 
the obsession, he or she was ignorant, or to speak 
Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German, or any other 
foreign language, as Gaspar a Rejes~ ~ observes. 
Wherefore, if any question shall arise respecting 
this grace gratis data of diverse kinds of tongues 
in the Congregation of Sacred Rites, during the 
progress of the cause of any servant of God whose 
beatification and canonization is under discussion, 
and if the postulators maintain that he had the gift 
of tongues, that is, knew diverse languages in a 
divine way, it will be necessary for them to show, 
by credible men, that he never studied those 
languages, and that he appeared of a sudden 
skilled therein, and spoke them readily, as oc 
casion offered, as Matthseuccif reminds us, and the 
Auditors of the Rota, in the cited Report in the 
cause of S. Francis Xavier. 

* Elys. Jucund. Quaest, qu. 27, art. 4. 
t Pract. Theologo. Canon, tit. 3, c. S, art. 2, 5, n. GS. 


But if the postulators maintain that the servant 
of God, speaking one language only, was heard by 
many of different languages, as if he was speaking in 
their own, it is necessary to bring forward witnesses 
to say that they heard him speak in their own 
language, as, for instance, Latin or Italian, and 
others also of different nations to say that they at 
the same time heard him speak in their own 
tongue, namely, Germans in German, Spaniards 
in Spanish, Frenchmen in French, Englishmen 
in English, and so of others ; and, besides, all 
must agree in the subject which the servant of 
God was speaking of, according to what is laid 
down in the alleged Report of the Auditors of 
the Rota. 

Beside this, it is to be inquired into whether 
in the exercise of the gift of tongues, vanity crept 
in, as, for instance, whether it was done to obtain 
the favour of people or princes, *or for gaining 
money, or attaining to honours, whether the 
speaker spoke of vain things, for these things 
would show that the use of diverse languages 
did not come from God. But if the speaker spoke 
of the wonderful works of God, if he used his gifts 
to convert sinners or infidels, this will be a most 
certain sign that he received the gift of tongues 
from God ; and the greatest weight will be al 
lowed to this in the causes of beatification and 
canonization, especially after proof of heroic vir 
tues, as Matta,* Matthseucci,t and Scacchus,]: ob 

* De Canonizat. SS. part. -;, c. 4, n. 18 ct It). t Loc. cit. u. CS. 

t De not. et sign. Sanctit. ? $, c. n, p 


11. The last grace gratis data of which the 
Apostle speaks is the interpretation of speeches, 
which may be explained in two ways ; firstly, the 
interpretation of a speech may relate to the mean 
ing of the words ; secondly, it may be understood 
of the meaning and mysteries involved in the 
words. According to the first, to interpret a 
speech is to explain the words of one language by 
the words of another, which can be done by writ 
ing or by word of mouth. According to the se 
cond, to interpret a speech is not to explain the 
words of one language by the words of another, 
but to teach the mysteries which lie hid in the 
words, and are often not understood by those who 
are not ignorant of the meaning of the words, as 
is well shown by Suarez.* To the first ought to 
be referred the version of the Seventy Interpreters 
of the Holy Scriptures, who, under Ptolemy Phil- 
adelphus, according to the more common opinion, 
composed their translation, not out of the stag 
nant pools of rivulets, or from the usual and popu 
lar Chaldee and Syriac books, or the Samaritan 
copies, but from the pure Hebrew sources, as John 
Morinus shows with sound reasons against the 
Rabbi Azarius : whether they made this version 
each apart from the other, and shut in so many 
cells, as Justin, Irenseus, and Cyril of Jerusalem 
thought, or assembled together in a public place, 
or in a great basilica, far from all tumult and 
noise, as, with greater probability, thinks S. Jerome. 
To the second is to be referred what we read of 

* Tom. 1, de gratia, Troleg. 3, c. 5, n. 55. 


the interpreters of the Apostles ; for Peter had 
Mark for his interpreter, and Paul, Titus ; of 
whom he says, 2 Corinth, ii. 12 : " And when I 
was come to Troas for the Gospel of Christ, and 
a door was opened unto me in the Lord, I had no 
rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my 
brother." The interpreters assisted the Apostles, 
and so Titus, Paul, either when they were speaking 
to a particular people, as the Romans, and others 
were present utterly ignorant of Latin; then the 
function of an interpreter seemed desirable ; or 
when the Apostles spoke things hard to be under 
stood, because then it was the duty of the inter 
preter to explain them, as Cardinal Baronius* 
concludes after a lengthened discussion. 

12, Suarezf agrees with Cardinal Baronius. 
But Estius, in his Commentaries on that passage, 
thinks it cannot be understood how the func 
tion of an interpreter in either way could have 
been exercised by Titus, and how Paul could have 
been grieved when he did not find Titus at Troas, 
and so could not make use of him in that way. 
He says that Paul had then preached in the re 
gions of Asia, Achaia, and Macedonia, where the 
ordinary language was Greek, also that Paul, by 
a divine miracle, having obtained the knowledge of 
languages, could speak Greek and Hebrew with 
the same ease; and besides, it is improbable that, 
because his interpreter was not there, whom per 
haps he required not, he left Troas, and went into 

* Ad. ann. 45, n. 37. 
t Loct cit. n. 61. 


Macedonia to seek him. He adds, that the Apos 
tles preaching to the^multitude adapted their speech 
to the understanding of the many, and reserved 
the more secret mysteries to a time when they 
could reveal them to men more qualified to hear 
them, and more advanced in the faith, Where 
fore the same Apostle says, 1 Corinth, ii. 6, " How- 
beit, we speak wisdom among the perfect" and iii. 
1, " I could not speak to you as unto spiritual but 
as unto carnal. As unto little ones in Christ, I 
gave you milk to drink, not meat, for you were 
not able as yet." From these words Estius infers 
that Paul had no need of Titus to explain myste 
ries and obscure things ; and concludes that the 
spirit of Paul had no rest, when he did not find 
Titus, because he had sent him to Corinth, to tell 
him whether the Corinthians had corrected them 

Cornelius a Lapide agrees with him, and thus 
writes : " There was also another cause why Paul 
went from Troas to Macedonia to meet Titus, 
whom he had left at Corinth ; he was desirous of 
knowing the state of the Corinthians before 
returning, as he had promised, to Corinth. 
Whence he says, vii. 6, that in Macedonia he was 
comforted by the coming of Titus, who related to 
him the mourning of the Corinthians, and their 
zeal for Paul." Titus seems to have told Paul 
that the time was not come for him to return to 
Corinth. So Paul delayed his journey to Corinth, 
and sent to them this epistle to prepare the way 
for himself, and to correct the defects of the 
Corinthians. Be it enough to have stated this. 


In the causes of beatification and canonization it 
seems to me extremely difficult for an opportunity 
to present itself of discussing this grace of inter 
pretation of speeches. For although it may hap 
pen, and often does happen, that the hidden mys 
teries of the Scriptures have been explained by a 
servant of God without human study, this will 
belong, not to the grace of, interpretation of 
speeches, but to infused knowledge, of which we 
have spoken before. 



1. AFTER graces gratis datce we have to treat of 
transport, ecstasy, and rapture. For ecstasy is 
referable to some one of the graces gratis dates, 
as something connected with them, as Matthseucci* 
observes. Transports, ecstasy, and rapture, are to 
be treated of before visions, apparitions, and reve 
lations, either because visions, apparitions, and 
divine revelations ought not to be always united 
with ecstasy and rapture, for these are given by 
God to whom He will, as Cardinal de Laursea,t ob 
serves, or because, when visions and apparitions are 
granted to the servants of God, they are granted, 
for the most part, to them when they are in ecstasy 

* Pract. Theologo. Canon, tit. 6, c. C, n. 10. 
t Opusc, 5, De Oratione. c. 8. 


and rapture, as Cardinal Bona* wisely observes : 
" Because, in general, nothing is revealed to man 
unless his senses shall have been previously rapt, 
and a vision or apparition have preceded; I shall 
therefore treat first of ecstasy and rapture, then of 
visions and apparitions, and, lastly, of revelations." 
Theologians, upon S. Thomas, treat largely of 
ecstasy and rapture, but the mystics at greater 
length. We, however, will here say somewhat of 
the nature and character of ecstasy, somewhat 
of its kind and of its signs ; then we shall briefly 
lay down what has reference to causes of beatifi 
cation and canonization. 

2. There are those who call ecstasy a transport 
of the mind. So Isidore.t So also S. Augustine, j 
who, in speaking of the word of God, says : " God 
speaks interiorly to him in a wonderful and unut 
terable manner ; neither by writings on bodily 
instruments, nor by words sounding in the bodily 
ears, nor by bodily resemblances, such as are 
wrought by the imagination in the spirit, as in 
sleep, or in a transport of the spirit, which the 
Greeks call ecstasy, and we too use the word in 
Latin. S. Augustine^ speaks of ecstasy also, and 
describing it, says : " Ecstasy is the withdrawal of 
the mind from the bodily senses." And in another 
place, || he says : " For ecstacy is a transport of the 
mind, which sometimes results from fear, some 
times, too, through revelation, by withdrawing the 

* De Discret. Spirit, c. 14, n. 1. 

i Etymolog. lib. 7, c. 8. * De Genes, ad. letter, tit. 8, c 25. 

Lib. 2, ad Simplic. qu. 1, col. 104, n. 1, Tom. (;. 

i, In Ps. 67, n. 36, Tom. 4, col. 683. 


mind from the bodily senses, so that the spirit may 
perceive what is shown to it." A person is said 
to be in an ecstasy when he is beside himself. This 
happens in two ways, according to the apprehensive, 
and according to the appetitive, faculty ; as we 
shall show out of S. Thomas. Ecstacy in the 
faculty which subserves knowledge, is said to be 
formally, as they say, because, by interior medita- 
tioii on one subject, the intellect is withdrawn from 
others; in the appetitive power, causally, for the 
vehemence of the affection absorbs the soul, and 
suffers it not to have the control of itself. Thus 
S. Thomas* speaks : " I reply, that a man is said 
to be in an ecstasy when he is beside himself, 
which happens relatively to the apprehensive and 
the appetitive faculty. 

" With reference to the apprehensive faculty, 
a man is said to be beside himself when he is 
without the knowledge which belongs to him, 
either, because he is raised to a higher, as a 
man when he comprehends certain things which 
are above sense and reason, is said to be in an 
ecstacy, in so far as he is beside the connatural 
apprehension of reason and sense, or, because 
he is brought down to a lower, as when a man 
becomes furious or mad, he is said to be in an 
ecstasy. With respect to the appetitive part, a 
man is said to be in an ecstasy when the desire 
of anything is carried to another, going, in a 
certain way, out of itself. The first ecstasy is 
caused by love, by way of disposition, in so far 

* J. - dae. qu. 28, art. 3. 


as it causes a man to meditate on the object 
loved ; an intense meditation on one subject 
withdraws him from others ; but the second 
ecstasy is caused by love directly." 

This is illustrated by James Alvares.* The soul 
in an ecstasy, seeing that its powers are finite, is 
sometimes deprived of all use of the senses, neither 
beholding what is present, nor hearing the voices 
of those who speak, as Henry Harphiusf explains, 
and therein the vegetative power only ceases from 
its operations, as it is not the faculty of know 
ledge, for when its operations cease, nutrition 
ceases, which is always essential to the animal 
powers, as S. Thomas teaches :J "We say that 
the vegetative powers of the soul do not operate 
through the soul being intent thereupon, as the 
sensitive powers, but in a natural way ; and, 
therefore, in a rapture, abstraction therefrom is 
not necessary, as it is from the sensitive powers, 
by the operations of which the intentness of the 
soul upon intellectual understanding would be 
diminished." The same thing is laid down by 
the holy doctor in another place, and further 
illustrated by Suarez,|| Raphael de la Torre, IT 
Gravina,** and Thyrseus.ff 

The soul is not separated from the body in an 

* De Gradib. Contempl. lib 5, part. 3, c. 8. 
f Theol. Mystic, lib 2, part. 3, c. 8. J 2. 2dae. qu. 175, art. 5. 

De Veritate. qu. 13, art. 4. 
|| De religione, Tom. 2, lib. 9, c. 18, n, 6. 
1 2. 2dze. Thorn. Tom. 1, qu. 95, art. 6, disp. 14. 
** Lydius Lapis, lib. 2, de ectasi. c. 30. 
tt De apparit. Intellect, lib. 4, c. 4, n. <;. 


ecstasy, whether it be natural or demoniacal, 
of which we shall speak below, whatever Plato* 
may have thought, who relates that Herus the 
Armenian was regarded as dead, but that the 
soul returned and he revived, and then spoke 
of the rewards and punishments of another life. 
And whatever Plinyt may have said, who speaks 
of Hermotimus of Clazomene, whose soul having 
wandered abroad, related many things which 
could have been known only by those who were 
present thereat ; others are recorded by Bodinus. j 
These, in truth, are fables and delusions of the 
devil, for it is God alone can raise the * dead, 
and the soul by the Divine power alone can 
return to the body it has left, as it is writ 
ten, 2 Corinth, i. 9 : " That we should not trust 
in ourselves, but in God, Who raiseth the dead. 

Gaspar a Rejes,g teaches that the soul once 
severed from the body cannot return to it by 
any power of nature or of the devil ; and if 
at any time this seems to have taken place, 
it must be attributed to the power of diabolic 
superstition, by which, the senses being bound 
up, that is, the ducts being obstructed, whereby 
the animal spirits flow through from the brain 
to the sentient parts, and the spirits being re 
called to the common sensorium, and there held 
that they might not flow outwardly, and the ac 
tions of the outward senses being thus impeded, 

*De liepubl. lib. 10. t Hist. Natur. lib. 7, c. 52. 
t Dacmonom. lib, 2, c. 3. 2 Jucund. Qutcst. qu. 81, n. 4. 


the body assumes the appearance of a corpse. 
Thus Olaus Magnus writes of the ecstasies of 
the Laplanders and Finlanders, who, while they 
remained in one spot buried in this sleep, though 
but falsely, traversed diverse places, and related 
many things, which they learned from their mas 
ter the devil, which at that instant were taking 
place in distant countries, to the astonishment 
of the ignorant, who thought that the severed 
soul had returned to the body. 

The soul is not severed from the body even in 
a divine ecstasy ; for though it be certain that 
the divine power could sever it therein, and again 
restore it to the body, whether it so happened 
or not when the Apostle was in ecstasy and rapt, 
he confesses that he knew not : saying 2 Corinth, 
xii. 2, " I know a man in Christ above fourteen 
years ago, whether in the body, I know not, or 
out of the body, I know not, God knoweth, such 
an one rapt even to the third heaven. And I 
know such a man, whether in the body or out 
of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth." It 
is not necessary, however, that the separation of 
the soul from the body should attend upon a 
divine ecstasy, seeing that God in virtue of His 
infinity is present to every soul, and so may re 
veal to it what He wishes to reveal in an ecstasy, 
without severing it from the body ; and as we 
never read that the souls of so many prophets 
who have been in ecstasies, and so many other 
servants of God who have been entranced, were 
separated from their bodies ; as is shown at length 


by Suarez,* Cornelius a Lapide,t Martin del 
Rio,} Scacchus,? Cardinal Bona,|| Gravina,H Con- 
salvi Durant,** * and Cardinal de 

S. Augustine,}} speaking of the ecstasy and rap 
ture of S. Paul, says it is imprudent to inquire 
whether, during the rapture, his soul was separated 
from his body or not, because the Apostle himself 
confesses that he knew not. S. Thomas^ says it is 
not necessary that the soul of Paul should in that 
rapture have been separated from his body, but 
he does not reply directly to the question, whe 
ther it was so or not. But Silvius, in the passage 
interpreting both S. Augustine and S. Thomas, 
says that they are to be understood as referring 
to an inquiry which tends to certainty, not to 
that which establishes probabilities, and that this 
favours the opinion of those who say that the soul 
of Paul was not separated from the body, seeing 
that the holy doctor says that it is more probable 
that the soul remained in the body, because a 
separation was not necessary. 

3. According to S. Thomas, rapture is more 
than ecstasy ; it is accompanied with violence ; 
he thus speaks : || || "Rapture involves something 
more than ecstasy, for ecstasy means simply 

* Loc. cit. n. 7, in fine. t In 2 Corinth, xii. 2. 

t Disquis. Magic, lib. 2, qu. 29. 

? Quasst. Medico-legal, lib. 4, tit. 1. qu. G, n. 16. 

II De Discret. Spirit, c. 14, n. 1. 11 Lyd. Lap. lib. 2, n. 30, assert. ?. 

** De Visionibus ante Revel. S. Brigittae, c. 3, p. .577. 

tt 3, Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 20, art. 23, n, 972, 

tt De Feccato Originali. c. 23. 
5 2. 2dse. qu. m, art. 5. nil 2. 2dae. qu. 17;"), art, i>. 


transport out of oneself, whereby a man is placed 
beyond his usual orderly condition, but rapture 
further involves violence." The nature of rapture, 
as it differs from ecstasy is, after S. Thomas, ex 
plained at length by Arauxo,* Scacchus,t Consalvi 
Durant,j CastelliniJ Antony of the Annuncia 
tion,! and Silvius,1f who says that violence is not 
essential to rapture, but that it is sufficient that 
it show something like violence. Cardinal Bona** 
explains the subject better : " This, then, is the 
difference between rapture and ecstacy ; this with 
draws the mind from the senses more sweetly, 
the former more powerfully and with a certain 
violence, so that rapture adds this to ecstasy, 
it offers a certain violence to the soul, most 
rapidly and powerfully withdraws it from sensible 
things, carries and bears it aloft to the intellec 
tual vision and love of invisible things." The 
mystics explain this violence to be a certain 
violent motion of the body, namely, as when they 
who are abstraced from the senses are raised up 
into the air, and so remain for a time raised up 
from the earth. This explanation is adopted by 
Cardinal de Laimea. It 

It is enough to have pointed out this, for ac 
cording to the Cardinal de Laursea the terms ecs- 

*Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23, n. 60. 

t De not. et sign. Sanct. 8, c, 3, 

t Cit. tr. de Visionibus, c. 3, p. 51. 

? De Inquis. Mir. in addit. univers. de Extais, n. 8. 

|| Discept, Mystic, de Orat. et contempl. qu. 2, art. 1. 

H 2. 2d. D. Thorn. Tom. 3, qu. 175, art. 2. 
* De Discret. -Spirit, c. 14, n. 2. ft Opusc. de Oratione, c. 6. 


tasy and rapture are generally indiscriminately 
used, and Consalvi Durant* has made the same 
observation : " We may assume it as certain that 
doctors of theology sometimes apply the terms 
ecstasy, transport, and rapture to the same thing, 
and that even in the Holy Scriptures they are 
at times so used." Father Baldelli also says the 
same in the MS. already referred to. " The Holy 
Scripture speaks of ecstasy thus understood as 
being identical with transport and rapture, and 
they are mentioned as being the same, as S. Tho 
mas observes, although the term rapture expresses 
a certain force and violence, and yet is it more 
properly attributed to the intellect than to tho 
will, as to suffer violence and force is more pe 
culiar to the former than to the latter, according 
to the same holy doctor." 

4. We have already alluded to rapture and 
transport, natural, diabolical, and divine. This 
division is derived from the doctrine of S. Thomas:! 
"This kind of abstraction, towards- what object 
soever it may be directed, arises from three causes ; 
from a physical cause, as in their case, who, owing 
to some bodily infirmity, become abstracted; from 
the power of the devil, as in the case of the pos 
sessed ; from the power of God ; and so we now 
come to speak of rapture, as when, a man is raised 
aloft by the divine spirit, unfettered by the senses, 
to certain supernatural things, as in the case of 
Ezechiei viii. 3: "And the spirit lifted me up 
between the earth and the heaven, and brought me 
in the vision of God into Jerusalem." 

* Loc. cit. c. 3. t - . -Mae. qu. 175, art. I. 


A natural ecstasy is that which results from na 
tural causes, as, for instance, from a disease which 
the physicians call Catoche, or Catalepsy ; for per 
sons seized thereby are deprived of all sense and 
motion, and remain in that position in which it 
attacks them, rigid and motionless, with eyes open 
and fixed, resembling waking, though all the senses 
have ceased from their functions. A natural 
ecstasy may result from a strong imagination ; for 
then the animal spirits flow into the brain, and 
therefore the functions of the external senses 
cease, and the intenser the imagination, the greater 
the flow of spirits into the brain, and thus the 
abstraction is the stronger, and the more lasting. 
Hence we read that Plato was sometimes so intent 
upon philosophic speculations, as to lose the use 
of his senses, and the abstraction of S. Thomas 
Aquinas is well known, who, sitting at the royal 
table, cried out that it was conclusive against the 
Manichseans, In this natural ecstasy the body is 
not raised from the ground. Wherefore Zacchias* 
says : " But others beside are in ecstacies, who, in 
an ecstasy, are lifted up from the earth, so as to 
remain poised up in the air. This, however 
whatever some may have attempted to say is not 
true in a natural ecstasy, for it is altogether 
against nature for a body to be raised up of its 
own strength, and be supported in air." 

A diabolical ecstasy is that in which the devil 
binds up the senses, and obstructs the ducts by 
which the spirits are diffused from the brain into 

* Qusest. Medico, legal, lib. 4, tit. 1, de Miracul. q. fi, n. 10. 


the exterior senses, and when he excites in the 
fancy and thinking faculty a vehement cogitation 
upon any object or business. In this ecstasy the 
body may be raised from the ground ; for that 
does not exceed his power and strength. Jambli- 
chus, edited by Kuster, at Amsterdam, in 1707, 
relates it as a notorious fact, that Pythagoras, in 
one and the same day, was carried by the devil 
from distant countries to Italy, and from Italy to 
Sicily, and that he conversed with his disciples in 
those places ; the same story is mentioned by 
Origen.* A good angel, as it is written, Daniel 
xiv. 35, took the prophet Habacuc by the hair of 
his head, and carried him to Babylon, at the com 
mand of God. By the permission of God Simon 
Magus was lifted up into the air by the devil, 
so that he seemed to fly ; but, however, at the 
prayers of Peter he was abandoned by the devil, 
fell headlong to the earth, and died, suffering the 
punishment he deserved. On this subject consult 
Cardinal Baronius,t and Rocca, j who has collected 
much matter to illustrate the fact. Henry Valois, 
in his notes upon the ecclesiastical history of 
Eusebius, seems to doubt of the flight of Simon 
Magus, and of the whole history of his contest with 
S. Peter : asserting that Eusebius makes no men 
tion of the contest, of the flight, and his destruction; 
that Irenseus also, and Justin, are silent on the 
subject. But Tillemont, in his Life of S. Peter, 

* Contra. Celsum. lib. 6. 
( Ad. an. 61, n. 13. $ De Canoniz. SS. c. 14, 

16 VOL. in. 


with skill and learning confirms that story by 
innumerable testimonies, both of fathers and 
historians, saying that some without good reason 
have doubted it ; then he adds, that he would 
rather be deceived with Arnobius, Cyril of Jerusa 
lem, the Legates of Liberius, Ambrose, Augustine, 
Isidore of Pelusium, Theodoret, and the other 
fathers, than charge them with unreasoning credu 
lity. Calmet* also speaks to the same effect. 
Torreblancaf adds that Magdalene of the Cross 
was lifted up, in the presence of many, by the 
devil from the ground. 

Finally, a divine ecstasy is that wherein God, 
either Himself, or by means of a good angel, en 
wraps a man, and withdraws him from the senses, 
that he may the more freely meditate on divine 
things; and here in by Divine power the body may 
be raised on high, not because this has any neces 
sary connexion with ecstasy or rapture resulting 
from a vehement, divine contemplation, but be 
cause God, as this ecstatic contemplation is like 
to, and as it were, a commencement of that which 
will be in the beatitude of souls in order to instruct 
us therein, grants at times to the enraptured this 
special gift ; which gift is a certain imperfect parti 
cipation of the gift of fleetness, which will be be 
stowed on glorified bodies. This divine ecstasy 
may come from God without any previous medi 
tation or consideration, as was that mentioned in 
Genesis ii. 21 : " The Lord God cast a deep sleep 

* In. Dissert, de Simone. Mago. 
t De Magia. lib. 2, c. 10, n. 37. 


upon Adam." It may also proceed from God, 
moving and enlightening man, to consider, for in 
stance, a certain mystery of the faith, so that the 
divine grace continuing, and man more attentively 
and vehemently considering, he becomes alienated 
from the senses : not only the first kind, but also 
the second kind is to be accounted a divine ecs 
tasy, for the suspension of the senses and aliena 
tion of them results from the power of grace, al 
though naturally it proceeds from the former 
grace, and one flows naturally from the other. 

Theologians, mystics, philosophers, and those 
who have written on the subject of canonization, 
confirm what we have been saying. Among theo 
logians, Suarez,* Arauxo,t Raphael de la Torre, j: 
Consalvi Durant,g Gravina,|| Cardinal Bona,H and 
Cardinal de Laursea.** Among the mystics, 
S. Francis de Sales.ff Among the philoso 
phers, Zacchias4J Gaspar a Rejes ; and among 
those who wrote upon canonization, Cardinal de 
Laursea,|||| Matta,1f1[ and Mattha3ucci.*** 

5. We add what Father Baldelli has written in 
the MSS. referred to, but hitherto unpublished, 

* De Religione. Tom. 2, lib. 2, c. 15. 

t Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23, ? 3, n. 60. 

J 2. 2dze. qu. 95, art. 4, disp. 13, disp, 14. 

2 De Vision, c. 3, p. 55, 59. || Lap. Lyd. lib. 2, c. 28, p. 253. 

11 De Discret. Spirit, c. 14, n. 4. * Opusc. de Orat. c. 6, advert. 3. 

it De amore Dei, Tom. 3, c. 5, c. 6, 
+t Quaest. Medico legal, lib. 4, tit. 1, qu. 6, n. 7. 

0? Jucund. Quaest. Elys. camp. qu. 81, n. 3. 
||il 3 Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 20, de miracul. ar. 23, n. 942. 

^"f De Canoniz. SS. part. 3, c. 4, n. 3. 
*** Pract. Theologo Canon, tit. 3, c. 3, art. 1, n. 2. 


in which he clearly explains the threefold ecstasy, 
namely, the natural, the diabolical, and the divine. 
He says something of the shining of the counte 
nance of some ecstatics, and of protracted absti 
nence from food which some of them have ob 
served ; but of this we shall speak when we treat 
of miracles. The same author, in the passage 
now to be quoted, touches slightly on the history 
of the Seven Sleepers, namely, Maximian, Mal- 
chus, Martian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, and 
Constantine, whose festival is commemorated 
in the Roman Martyrology July 27th. Some 
say they were called sleepers, because shut up in 
a cave from the time of Decius till the end of the 
reign of Theodosius the younger, they fell asleep, 
and slept about two hundred years. Others say 
that they were called sleepers, because they were 
martyred in a cave in the time of Decius, and 
when the cave was opened and their bodies found, 
they appeared as if restored to life : or because, 
after the manner of Holy Scripture, they are said 
to be asleep who piously and devoutly ended their 
life. Cardinal Baronius, in his notes on the Roman 
Martyrology, states both opinions, and is more in 
clined to the latter : but the first is defended and 
maintained with great learning by Joseph Simoon 
Assemani,* my special friend, and a man of great 
literary reputation. After the first edition of this 
work had been published, there was printed at 
Rome in 1741 the history of the Seven holy 
Sleepers, from the relievo in the Museum Victo- 

* Biblioth. Orient. Tom. 1, p. 335. 


rium, in which the second opinion is maintained. 
Let it be sufficient to have mentioned this. 

The words of Father Baldelli are these : " As to 
the causes of ecstacies and raptures, three are 
assigned by S. Thomas, namely, God, the devil, 
and a certain natural temperament. Because, 
although intense attention to divine things, and 
abstraction from the senses and the animal powers, 
can be only from God, as it is from Him that every 
other good thought comes which helps our salva 
tion; nevertheless, the suspension of the senses at 
times, whether it results because the mind is 
wholly occupied with another object, or, because, 
without being intent upon anything, it is simply 
deprived of the use of the senses, may proceed 
likewise from the devil and from physical causes. 
And there can be no question that the ecstasies 
and raptures of proud contemplatives, as Cajetan 
observes, come from the devil, and also those 
of witches and magicians, when they remain in 
one spot like dead persons, deceived by fictitious 
appearances, which the devil causes and produces 
in their imagination, and they think they have 
been in various places, and have done many things 
at their pleasure. 

Thus ought we to understand what is said 
of some one by Olaus Magnus, in the northern 
histories, that being desired to tell by some 
one who wished to know what had become of 
his friends or enemies, he placed on an anvil a 
snake or frog of bronze, which he held as the 
instrument or sign of his acts and incantations ; 
he then struck it with a hammer a certain num- 


ber of blows, and having turned it on this side 
and on that, saying certain words, fell to the 
ground, and remained as one lifeless in an ecstasy. 
Returning to himself, he replied to what had 
been demanded of him, as if he had been person 
ally at the whole. In the same way are we to 
understand those occurrences which are reported 
as having taken place among the heathens, 
namely, of persons returning to life and relating, 
as having seen them, various horrible and alarm 
ing details. Such is a case mentioned by Plato ; 
a man had been ten days dead, having fallen 
in battle, his friends removed him to give him 
honourable burial, and while he was on the point 
of being buried and reduced to ashes according 
to custom, he returned to life, and recounted 
many things that he had seen. Such, also, is 
that mentioned by Pliny ; a man named Her- 
motimus left his body for dead, and his soul 
wandered into diverse places, afterwards it re 
turned to the body, and he made kno^vn what 
none could have known but those who had been 
present in those distant countries ; he used to 
wander in this way at will, but at last his body 
was found by his enemies and burnt, and thus 
his soul lost its refuge for ever afterwards. Pliny 
and other historians relate many things of the 
same kind. 

" And in this way the devil, too, in the ecsta 
sies of which he is the source, sometimes impedes 
the natural function of the senses, that is, by 
obstructing the passages by which the animal 
spirits flow from the head and the brain to the 


sensorium, and the species to the senses, as it 
happens during sleep ; or perhaps, collecting 
and contracting those spirits within, employing 
the senses and the interior powers upon some 
other operation, and abandoning the external, 
as it happens when we are vehemently intent 
upon any subject which we do not see, and per 
ceive not what passes before us, and hear not those 
who speak to us." 

"And although it is not essential to rap 
tures and ecstasies that the vegetative and vital 
powers of the soul be impeded and bound up, 
as the sensitive and the animal powers are 
bound up, as S. Thomas says ; because the vital 
powers do not, like the animal powers, require 
the soul or any general power to be intent 
upon them ; nevertheless, because the spirits 
retire and collect themselves within by an 
operation so intense as that which takes place 
in an ecstasy, the vital operations also become 
impeded, that is, digestion and nutrition, as it 
clearly appears in him who immediately after 
meals betakes himself to study or any other 
mental exercise. And this is as common to 
diabolical ecstasies as to divine, if God in these 
does not relieve it in some particular way." 

" But similar abstraction from, and suspension 
of, the senses may result also from physical causes, 
which, with S. Thomas, we assigned as the third 
source of ecstasies, as it is clearly to be gathered 
from what Aristotle teaches on the subject of 
sleep and waking ; he says that not every impedi 
ment or weakness of the exterior senses is sleep, 


but only that which is caused in the sentient 
part, that is, in the organ of the sense belonging 
to the fumes of nutriment. And he adds, 
that beside this, there are many other ways of 
binding up and obstructing the powers of the 
soul, and rendering them incapable of sensation ; 
namely, delirium and trance, madness and rage, 
which, as his interpreters observe, and particu 
larly Themistocles, are sometimes so powerful as 
to admit neither of hearing nor seeing, nor even 
of feeling pain, when people in their fury tear 
their own flesh with their teeth. And finally, to 
bind and compress certain veins of the throat. 
And it is certain, according to the physicians, 
that from the obstruction of the ventricles of the 
brain, and the passage through which flow the 
spirits, which subserve sense and motion, apo 
plexy results, whereby a man falls down to the 
ground deprived of all sense and voluntary mo 

" It very frequently happens, as experience 
shows, that by reason of certain derangements 
of the womb, women remain apparently dead, as 
Pliny remarks. And the same experience shows, 
that if any nerve and instrument of sense, be 
bound in the middle, that part of it only which 
is nearest to the brain has feeling, because it 
alone admits of the influx of the animal spirits, 
and not the lower and more distant portion, for 
all communications with the spirits have been 
cut off. And, therefore, we may reasonably be 
lieve that in every other way that impedes the 
course of the spirits, the privation of sense and 


motion which is visible in ecstasies may result 
from physical causes." 

"And perhaps we can explain in this way 
what Cardan"* relates of himself, that he went 
into an ecstasy at his will and pleasure, and so 
remained without sense, so as scarcely to hear 
the sound of voices when persons spoke to him, 
but without understanding what was said, with 
out feeling, even when struck, though it was 
done roughly and with force, and insensible to 
the pain of gout, however intense. He observed 
how this happened, and says that he perceived 
the commencement of it behind the brain, called 
the cerebellum, that it spread itself through the 
spine, and near his heart he seemed to feel a 
severance, as if the soul parted, and as if a por 
tion opened itself for his strength and his life ; 
he could not delay this but for a moment, and 
by doing great violence to himself. And there is 
no doubt that as certain muscles and nerves are 
found at times in some persons that are not 
generally found in others, so that these have the 
power of certain bodily movements which others 
have not, like those mentioned by S. Augustine,! 
who moved their ears at will, either one or both, 
and those who spread and project the hair of their 
head over their foreheads, and others like them, 
so there may have been in Cardan a particular 
organization of his nerves and membranes, by 
which he compressed the passages of the animal 

* Lib. 8, de Variet. c. 43. 
t De Civit. Dei, lib. 14, c. 24. 


spirit, and obstructed their course, whereupon 
followed the failing of the senses, and, as it were, 
of life itself." 

" The same thing occurred in a priest, named 
Restitutus, mentioned by S. Augustine ; he at 
his own will, and at the request of those who 
desired to witness with their own eyes so re 
markable a phenomenon, would, at the mere 
sound of voices imitating persons in lamentation 
and grief, abstract himself from the senses, and 
remain breathless as one dead, not only without 
feeling when any one pricked or pulled him, but 
even when fire was applied to him, unless he 
was , wounded, and the loud voices of those 
who spoke to him, he heard, he said, as if 
they were at a great distance. And perhaps 
these feigned sounds of lamentation served to no 
other purpose than to excite the melancholy hu 
mours which in no slight degree help to compress 
the passages of the animal spirits ; and as apo 
plexy, according to the physicians, obstructs the 
breathing, and when it is less violent, and 
leaves the senses, and nerves of some of the senses 
at liberty, it also leaves it possible to exercise in 
a slight degree some of their functions ; thus in 
Restitutus the breathing was obstructed, but the 
hearing not perfectly, so that he heard the voices 
as if at a distance. And we have the experience 
of this very frequently in the sleep of those who 
answer questions at length, and do many things 
as if they were awake, only because all the senses 
are not entirely bound up ; so it may happen also 
in ecstasies, that some of the senses may be more 
impeded than others." 


"But there is no doubt that this kind of 
ecstasy, which obstructs the passage of the ani 
mal spirits at will by means of the nerves 
and membranes, is peculiar to but few, as it 
is that in few, and beyond the ordinary course 
of nature, such nerves and membranes are 
found. The other is more easy and more com 
mon ; although the passages remain open for the 
flow of the spirits, yet those spirits are collected 
and concentrated within, and the interior powers 
are entirely occupied with some absorbing opera 
tion ot the mind, and in this way the exterior 
organs remain powerless and alone. There is no 
one who has not experienced in himself, at least 
partially, the truth of this, when by a profound 
and intense attention to one subject, he neither 
sees what is before him, nor hears him who speaks 
to him. Every one may easily understand from 
this slight interruption to the function of the 
senses, how it may naturally occur in others for 
a longer time, and with greater intensity, when 
men apply themselves more directly to the object 
of their thoughts. Thus Plato, quoted by Marsi- 
lius Ficinus, says of Socrates, that sometimes 
from the dawn of one day to the dawn of the 
next, he remained standing and motionless, with 
his eyes fixed on one spot, always absorbed in 
thought. So also Livy speaks of Archimedes, 
that being intent upon some mathematical figure, 
which he had described on the ground, he heard not 
the tumult of the soldiers who were pillaging the 
town, who came upon him and put him to death." 

" Not to be tedious with these heathen instances, 


which may be seen in Ficinus and the publica 
tions of the university of Coimbra, we read in the 
Life of S. Thomas, that he was once at table with 
S. Lewis, King of France ; forgetting the place and 
the majesty of the king, he waived his hand, and 
beside himself, and beside the purpose, said, It is 
conclusive against the Manichseans. At another 
time, when by the advice of his physicians he was 
to undergo an operation, he stretched forth his 
leg most readily, and was at the same time so 
absorbed in thought, that he did not perceive the 
fire which was applied. At another time, while in 
his cell writing, he was so rapt in meditation that 
the lighted candle which he held in his hand was 
burnt down, and was burning his hand. In like 
manner some say that Scotus in an ecstasy, re 
maining one day and longer absorbed, and as it 
were dead, gave occasion to some inexperienced 
persons to think that he was really dead, and to 
bury him, as we read in his Life prefixed to his 
works, printed at Venice in 1617." 

" But that which Marsilius Ficinus says in the 
place referred to, that the prolonged sleep of Epime- 
nides of Crete was an ecstasy, which lasted fifty 
years, or rather, according to Apuleius and Baro- 
nius, fifty-seven years, cannot become credible from 
this, principally, because ecstasy hinders only the 
animal, and not the vital powers, and as it does not 
extinguish the natural heat, so does it not destroy 
nutrition, nor take away the necessity for food ; 
whence for so long a time life could not be preserved 
in such an extasy. And thus is it related as a su 
pernatural thing in Exod. xxxiv. 28, that Moses 


speaking with God forty days and forty nights, 
" neither ate bread nor drank water. " And of Jesus 
Christ it is written, Luke iv., that being in the 
desert forty days, "He ate nothing in those days." 
Now if the sleep of Epimenides could be explained 
by ecstasy, so also could that of the young man 
mentioned by Pliny, who, wearied with the heat 
and his journey, slept, it is said, fifty-seven years 
in a cave, and afterwards awaking, as if on the 
following day, marvelled at the change he saw in 
everything. And also in him, who was a young 
man, and not a philosopher, it does not seem rea 
sonable to attribute this to ecstasy and the sus 
pension of the senses, which result from the atten 
tion of the mind being fully occupied." 

" With respect to the Seven Sleepers, whose feast 
is kept July 27, who had suffered much under De- 
cius for the holy faith, and have truly rested in 
our Lord, Baronius remains in doubt whether it 
may be truly said that they slept for two hundred 
years in a cave, that is, from the days of Decius 
to the later years of Theodosius the Younger, ac 
cording to Metaphrastes, Nicephorus, Cedrenus, 
Gregory of Tours, and others, or whether they re 
ceived the name of the Sleepers only because 
martyred in a cave in the time of Decius, their 
bodies were found, and appeared like those of per 
sons raised to life, and so were called Sleepers 
according to the usage of Scripture, where the 
death of the saints is called sleep. But if we 
admit in any one a certain organization, so that 
he may be nourished by the watery humours of the 
stomach and the veins, and have not for a consider- 


able time either need or desire of any other food, 
as it is the case with bears, the dormouse, kites, 
and many other animals, according to Albertus 
Magnus,-- which for a great part of the winter lie 
asleep in caves, and, according to Avicenna, quo 
ted by Rhodiginus, may also be the case with 
man ; in these cases it is most easy to grant that 
there was a lengthened ecstasy, so far as it con 
cerns the necessity of food ; for Albertus Magnus 
says that he saw himself in Poland a woman who 
frequently spent thirty days without food, and a 
melancholy man, who in the same way spent 
seven whole weeks without tasting anything but a 
little water once in two days. Rhodiginus adds, 
that it is certain from modern histories, that one 
man for two successive years neither ate nor 
drank, and that in Spain there was a woman, who 
without eating, but only by drinking a little water 
occasionally, supported life for twenty-two years." 
"But be it as it may with respect to the time 
and duration of an ecstasy, if it may last a year, or 
a day, or an hour, it is sufficiently explained in the 
teaching of S. Thomas, that an ecstasy, in so far as 
it means the suspension of the senses, may result, 
not only from God, but also from the devil, and 
from physical causes ; and to these Ficinus, Fra- 
castorius,f and the university of Coimbra refer the 
melancholy temperament, which following in great 
measure the nature of earth, which does not 
spread itself abroad like the other elements, keeps 

* De animal, lib. 7, c. 3. 
t De Intell. lib. 2. 


itself confined within itself, and greatly tends to 
mental recollection, and by this means also to 

" For this reason Aristotle* said that all great 
men who signalized themselves in any employ 
ment were given to melancholy. And from 
all this we gather, that when holy men become 
abstracted, or fall into ecstasies in meditating upon 
divine things, so we may say that, these, which 
substantially do not exceed the measure of grace 
which is commonly granted in such meditations, 
but only exceed it in measure, are from God ; for 
to think of God so intensely as to absorb all the 
powers ef the soul, is not ordinarily granted to all 
who are in a state of grace, but only to a few, 
according to the good pleasure of the divine good 
ness, and the disposition of each. And there is 
no doubt that at the bare hearing of Christ as 
an infant, of the divine sacrament, of the blood 
shed, of the wounds of His most holy Body, of the 
grief of His mother, of union with God, of the 
glory of the blessed, and such like, a soul becomes 
instantly absorbed, derives from these great light 
communicated to it by the Father of lights, and 
in virtue thereof, as soon as it was proposed to 
the sense of hearing, it rapidly entered within, 
and showed itself so obedient to God, that, as it 
were at a signal given, it flew at once to His 

" Whether this abstraction commences in the 
apprehensive powers, and descends from these 

Probl. M 30. 



to the appetitive, or whether it commences in 
these, and ascends to the former, it cannot be a 
sign of great sanctity, that is, of the greatest sub 
jection of the soul to God, and of the greatest 
power which the Divine objects exercise in it. 
This is, according to S. Bernard in his fifty second 
Sermon on the Canticles, the death of the just 
which the prophet longed for, when he said, Let 
me die the death of the just, that is, of that which 
not working at all with the inferior powers of the 
external senses, in respect of which it is as death, 
and employing the mind only upon God, in God 
alone is perfect life. If this alienation and abstrac 
tion from the senses be accompanied with any un 
usual circumstances, as the elevation of the body 
from the ground, the shining of the face, and like 
things, such as, we often read, have happened to 
saints in their ecstasies, it must be said, that 
such an ecstasy, too, as to the substance of these 
circumstances, goes beyond the ordinary course of 
grace : if we do not say that even in these splen 
dours the excess is only in the manner, and not 
substantial, in so much as the animal spirits which 
in ecstasy are more inflamed and purified, through 
their being a more subtle and warmer blood, ap 
proximate greatly to the nature of fire, and having 
in themselves some light, have the power of ren 
dering much more luminous and resplendent that 
part where they meet together in greater abun 
dance, as in the face, and herein principally in 
the eyes, which being transparent, and as it were 
crystal, are better adapted for receiving and reflec 
ting the light. Also in men given to speculation 


and contemplation, the eyes are observed to 
sparkle, and in some they have been of such 
brilliancy as to make the atmosphere luminous, 
and even in the thick darkness of midnight to 
cause a resemblance to midday : as we read of 
Tiberius Caesar in Pliny,* and as Cardan says of 
himself. All this is to be attributed to animal 
spirits of exceeding subtilty, and to the organiza 
tion of the eyes and brain." 

" Bat if the brightness be excessive, as was that 
of the face of Moses, upon which the Hebrews 
could not bear to gaze, and that of Christ in His 
transfiguration, when " His face did shine as the 
sun, and His garments became white as snow," it 
cannot be attributed to natural causes, but we 
must every way admit it to be miraculous, as S. 
Thomas teaches concerning the brightness of 
Christ ; and if we add, that in kind and nature 
it is different from the natural brightness of 
bodies, as he affirms of it, and universally of the 
brightness of glorified bodies, there can be no 
doubt that it is beyond the power of natural 
causes, and solely from the overflowing of the 
brightness and inward light of the soul, as is the 
brightness of the bodies of the blessed, according 
to S. Augustine, in his letter to Dioscorus, and S. 
Thomas. Nor is it inconsistent with this, that 
such brightness bodily appears, because things 
different in nature and essence can move and end 
in one and the same sense." 

" But with respect to the other effect, visible at 

* Lib. 11, c. 3. 
17 VOL in. 


times in ecstasies, the elevation of a body from the 
ground to a great height, and its being supported in 
the air for some time, it does not appear that it 
can, with any propriety, be attributed to nature, 
because, although the animal spirits, having the 
quality and lightness of fire, have some power to 
make it light, as it appears in the case of dead 
persons, who, being deprived of these, become 
heavier, and less light, they cannot, therefore, 
overcome the weight of the predominant element, 
so as to lift up the body and support it aloft, and 
maintain it fixedly at a great height. This, there 
fore, must be attributed to the power of God, Who 
can raise up body and spirit together. And this, 
without doubt, is to be held for truth, rather than 
that which Marsilius Ficinus, after the Chaldseans, 
says occurred to Zoroaster, and following the Pla- 
tonists, says might happen naturally, namely, that 
the soul rapt in God is filled with light, which 
diffuses itself over the whole body, and so renders 
it light, and carries it aloft, as we see tow carried 
by the fire. And if we add what he says according 
to the opinion of those persons, that it was in this 
way that Elias was carried away in the chariot of 
fire, and S. Paul to the third heaven, and that in 
the same manner the bodies of the just will be 
carried after the general judgment, we not only 
ought to deny this as not being true, but as alto 
gether false, and deserving of severe condemna 

5. Let us now proceed to the signs of ecstasy, 
natural, diabolical, and divine. And premising 
that no account is to be made of any ecstasy which 


is slight, but only of that which is considerable, 
deprives those subject to it of all use of the 
exterior senses, and makes them appear as dead ; 
we say, that the signs of a natural ecstasy are the 
signs of disease, from which a natural ecstasy may 
result. Again, if the ecstasy takes place at defi 
nite times, if he who is subject to it, in the course 
of time, suffers from apoplexy or paralysis, or any 
other similar disease, if the ecstasy be succeeded 
by weariness, by sluggishness of the limbs, a cloud 
ing of the mind and understanding, forge tfulness 
of past events, paleness of face, and sadness of 
mind ; these are the signs of natural ecstasy, as 
Zacchias* shows at length. Circumstances also 
may show whether the ecstasy was natural ; for if 
a person falls into an ecstasy while he is actually 
desiring some earthly object, when he is seized 
suddenly with terror or sadness, on account of any 
event ; here, too, beyond all doubt, the ecstasy is 
natural. Thus Isaac, Genes, xxvii. 33, perceiving 
that he had blessed Jacob instead of Esau, and 
had made him lord over him, " was struck with 
fear, and astonished exceedingly, and wondering 
beyond what can be believed." Thus Jacob, 
Genes, xlv. 26, hearing that Joseph, whom, for 
twenty-three years he believed dead, was alive, 
and viceroy of Egypt, " awaked, as it were, out of 
a deep sleep." Thus in 2 Paralip. ix. 4, when the 
queen of Saba saw all the magnificence of Solo 
mon, and made proof of his wisdom, " there was 
no more spirit in her, she was so astonished." 

* Qiuest. Medico, legal, lib. 4, tit. 1, qu. 6. 


Thus, finally, we read of Nabal, who had refused 
provisions to David in his flight, and had heard 
from his wife Abigail that David was angry with 
him, that " his heart died within him, and he 
became as a stone." Lastly, it is a natural 
ecstasy when the senses are suspended, and when a 
man falls into an ecstasy while he hears music ; 
Cassiodorus,* Seneca,t and Calmet, in his disserta 
tion on the music of the ancients, especially of 
the Hebrews, at very great length speak of such 
natural effects of music. 

6. Circumstances, besides, may show whether the 
ecstacy was diabolical, for instance, if a man of 
abandoned life, or in an act of sin, fell into ecstasy 
or rapture. Also, if the ecstasy was accompanied 
with great contortion of the limbs, and violent move 
ments of the body. Cajetan, j on S. Thomas, well 
observes : " Mark this golden expression, a divine 
condition. Such suspension of the senses does not 
occur in prophets with any disorderliness of nature, 
and much less does it take place with anything dis 
orderly, in respect of modesty and propriety. For 
the Holy Spirit, Who is the author of this suspen 
sion, which is necessary for prophecy, as He is the 
author of prophecy itself, is not the author of any 
disorderliness in nature or in conduct, for grace is 
in itself adapted for perfecting, not for destroying, 
diminishing, or violating nature and good conduct, 
and therefore this suspension of the senses, with a 
sensible vehement motion of the heart for that in- 

* Variar. lib, 2, c. 5. + De Ira. lib. 3, c. 9. 
% 2. 2(Ise. qu. 173, art. 3. 


volving a certain disorderliness of nature does not 
proceed from the Holy Spirit.... It is, therefore, ne 
cessary to observe in these cases, whether there be 
any unbecoming movement, either exteriorly or in 
teriorly, whether that unbecomingness relate to na 
ture or to modesty, since, in that case, the suspen 
sion of the senses is not prophetic, but results from 
weakness, or hypocrisy, or diabolical illusion, or 
from the animal nature, from being too much 
occupied with one subject." With him agree 
Gravina,* Consalvi Durant,t Castellini,| Matta, 
Thomas a Jesu,|| and Larrea,1[ who thus speaks 
of the proof of diabolical ecstasy: "As often as 
this man fell into an ecstasy, which was often the 
case with him, it was not with a placid counten 
ance and open face, as others, but it was with some 
extraordinary signs, and throwing blood out of his 
mouth, which are not, in truth, the footsteps of 
those whom God throws into ecstasies, and who 
delight in the divine inspiration." 

It is a sign of diabolical ecstasy, if a man falls 
into it as often as he pleases ; as ecstasies are 
granted to none habitually, for divine grace draws 
the soul to itself when arid how it pleases. 
Pignatelli** says, if he ceases from his ecstasy at 
pleasure, or recovers his senses at the bidding of 
another, unless, perchance, it be the bidding of a 
superior, under obedience ; if he who falls into an 

* Lyd. Lap. lib. 2, c. 28, 
t De Visionibus, c, 3, p. 58. J De Inquisit. Miracul. n. 19. 

2 De Canon. SS. part, 3, c. 4, n. 32. 

I Tom. 2, c. 8, disp. 3. ^ Decis. de Eevelat. part. 1, n. 57. 

** Consult, 151, n. 76, 79, Tom. 8. 


ecstasy speaks with a disturbed mind, as if urged 
by another, and as if another was speaking through 
him ; if, afterwards, he cannot remember what he 
said when he was in ecstasy, and cannot repeat 
what he said ; if, finally, he falls frequently into 
ecstasies in public places, where the concourse of 
men is greater ; for it is the property of the 
devil to seek honour in external things, and which 
are visible to men. 

S. Augustine* relates the following of a certain 
priest named Restitutus. " There was a certain 
priest, named Restitutus, in the diocese of Ca- 
lama, who, whenever he pleased and he was 
asked to do it by persons who were anxious to be 
hold such a phenomenon at the feigned sounds 
of lamentation became abstracted from sense, and 
lay down as if dead, so as not to feel when he was 
pulled or pricked by others, sometimes even, not 
even the application of fire, excepting the wound 
which remained." Consalvi Durantf shews that 
this was the work of the devil, and at some length 
refutes Cardan, who boldly maintained that man 
could, by his own natural powers, fall into an 
ecstasy whenever he pleased. 

Martin del Rio j says there was a girl at Sara- 
gossa who fell so frequently into raptures, that she 
did so at her pleasure; this the Bishop of Saragossa 
discovered to be the result of a compact entered into 
between her and the devil while she was tending 
sheep. Zacchias relates that he saw himself a wo- 

* De Civit. Dei, lib. 14, c. 24. 

i De vision, cap. 3, p. 5. J Disquis. Magic, lib. 2, qu. 25. 
? QuEest, Medico legal, de morb. Simulat. qu. 6. 


man who was an impostor, pretend to be so natur 
ally and truly enrapt, as to excite the admiration 
of the beholders ; she would stand with her arms 
extended like a cross, with eyelids motionless, her 
eyes fixed for an hour, and sometimes would raise 
up her body as if she was about to fly to heaven, 
and stretch it forth in a wonderful way, would 
change the hue of her face into a thousand colours 
in an instant, would become faint like one dead, 
and then be overspread with redness immediately, 
and as if exhausted would feign to be returning to 
herself. Scacchus* records similar instances, 

Cardinal de Laurseaf speaks of the celebrated 
witch of Cordova, Magdalene of the Cross, and 
wisely reminds us, that we must beware of those 
who in their ecstasies utter not human cries, but 
those of wild beasts, and such as create horror; 
he considers those ecstasies to be diabolical, and 
says that he finds it so by experience. Raphael 
de la TorreJ teaches us to be suspicious of those 
who awake from their ecstasies when a word is 
whispered in their ear, or in a like manner, as if 
they were roused from sleep : for that awakening 
must proceed from a higher cause, that is, either 
from God or the devil ; it cannot proceed from 
God, for it has no other object than to excite the 
admiration of the vulgar ; and he infers that it 
proceeds from the devil. With respect to those 
ecstatics, who, at the bidding of a superior, are 

* De not. et sign. Sanct. ??. 8, c. 3. 

* 3, Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 20, art. 23, n. 998. 

t In 2. 2dae. qu. 91, art. 6, disp. 16. 


aroused from their ecstasy, lie says that we must 
proceed with caution, unless other circumstances 
unite to shew that the ecstasy is divine : and es 
pecially because sometimes superiors speak to 
them out of ostentation, and without any neces 

Finally, clear signs of diabolical ecstasy are 
these ; if in them any evil thing be recommen 
ded, or even good, but not for a good end.: or if 
after the ecstasies those subject to them remain 
disturbed : for although in ecstasies, apparitions, 
and divine revelations as we shall hereafter 
show some disturbance may and does arise, 
nevertheless, it is neither vehement nor of long 
duration, and the ecstatics rest in delight. The 
case related by Father Ribadeneira* in his Life 
of S, Ignatius, is worthy of observation. Father 
Reginald, a Dominican, and a grave man, visited 
S. Ignatius at Rome, and in the presence of Father 
Ribadeneira told him that there was at Bologna in 
a monastery under his care, a nun remarkable for 
her virtue of prayer, who was frequently in ecstasies, 
so as not feel fire when applied to her person, who 
had the stigmata in her hands, whose side had a 
wound, and whose head was, as it were, pierced 
with thorns, from which even blood used to flow. 
He begged the saint to give him his opinion on the 
subject, who replied, that of the signs enumerated, 
that only was to be regarded, that the nun yielded 
most ready obedience to the commands of her 
superiors. And when Reginald had departed, and 

* Lib. 5, c. 10. 


S. Ignatius had finished the conversation, Riba- 
deneira adds, that he concluded that those signs 
might come from God, and might also from the 
devil, who, bj feigned and shadowy images of 
things, frequently deludes the minds of men, 
which regard vanities through the instrumentality 
of the body. Silvius,* following Cajetan, well 
observes, that those who in their ecstasies speak 
in the person of Christ, or of a saint as if inspired 
by him, are either deceiving or deceived. 

7. The signs of a divine ecstasy are principally 
to be derived from his conduct who is subject to 
them. A divine ecstasy takes place with the 
greatest tranquillity of the whole man, both out- 
wardly and inwardly. He who is in a divine 
ecstasy speaks only of heavenly things, which 
move the bystanders to the love of God ; on re 
turning to himself he appears humble, and, as it 
were, ashamed ; overflowing with heavenly conso 
lation, he shows cheerfulness in his face, and 
security in his heart ; he does not delight at all in 
the presence of bystanders, fearing lest he should 
thereby obtain the reputation of sanctity ; for the 
most part, while he is at prayer, or at mass, or 
after receiving the Eucharist, or while he hears of 
God or paradks, he falls into an ecstasy or trance. 
Martin del Riot mentions a certain servant of God, 
at Burgos, in Castile, living in 1585, who was 
frequently in ecstasies after receiving the holy 
Eucharist, and on returning to herself, would, full 
of shame and confusion, hurry herself quickly 

* 2. 2dae. Thorn. Tom. 3, qu. 173, art, 3. t Loc. cit. 


home, and retire to her chamber. Scacchus* re 
lates the same thing of S. Catherine of Sienna. 

Father Francis Marchesi published from the 
processes of canonization of S. Peter of Alcantara, 
his Life, which we shall quote from below ; in 
which, having mentioned the divine ecstasies and 
raptures into which the saint fell while he cele 
brated mass, adds this : " Having put off the 
sacred vestments, he returned without delay into 
his cell, and though his usual walk was grave and 
quiet, nevertheless, on such occasions, he quick, 
ened his pace in an unusual manner, and sometimes 
he ran fleet as the wind, in order to reach his cell 
as quickly as possible, but his humility never 
allowed him to relate to any one what celestial 
favours he received therein. But his religious 
inferred from his vehement sighs and sharp cries, 
that he was singularly favoured by our Lord." 

Besides, divine raptures are not long, but fre 
quently brief, as Cardinal Bona,t and Thomas a 
Jesuj show. The circumstances which precede, 
attend, and follow ecstasies, are to be diligently 
considered. If there be no doubt about the vir 
tues of the ecstatic, if the circumstances attending 
the ecstasy be such as we have mentioned, if the 
ecstatic, after the ecstasies, advances more and 
more in charity, in humility, and the other virtues^ 
the ecstasy is divine beyond all question, as is 
observed by Consalvi Durant :g " When they re 
turn to consciousness, who, in ecstasy or rapture, 

* Loc. cit. f De Discret. Spirit, c. 14, n. 6, 
i Tom. 2, disp. 3. c. 8. De Vision, c. 3, p. 69. 


have been divinely raised up to behold superna 
tural things, they perceive that their minds are 
more enlightened by the divine light, and endowed 
with divine wisdom, and then the soul is filled with 
divine light and love, and melting in ineffable de 
light, emerges into a heavenly state ; and the more 
it is raised up to higher mysteries, the more 
humble it shows itself, disposes itself the more for 
purity of life, and perfect self-denial, and prepares 
itself for more precious gifts. " Matta, * Scacchus,t 
and Cardinal de Laursea,^ speak to the same 
effect. The words of Cardinal Bona are these : 
"There is no proof more certain of a true and 
supernatural ecstasy, than the harmony of his 
conduct with this divine gift who receives it ; if he 
despises the world, if he hates its pomps and vani 
ties, if he has an effectual purpose of serving God, 
if he thinks himself unworthy of that grace, if he 
makes greater progress from day to day, if, by 
reason of this intimate union with God, he grows 
in humility, self-denial, hatred of self, and in the 
love of God." Matthseucci|| and Thomas a JesulF 
speak in like manner. 

8. According to S. Richard of S. Victor,** 
divine ecstacy may proceed from three sources ; 
from admiration, from great love, from great joy ; 
which Henry Harphiusff explains at length : " It 

* De Canon, SS. part 3, c. 4, n. 31. t Loc. cit. 22 8, c. 3. 

t Opusc. de Oratione. c. 7. Loc. cit. c. 14. 

|| Pract. Theologo, Canon, tit. 3, c. 3, art. 1, n. 15. 

fi Tom. 2, disp. 3, c, 8. ** De Contempl. lib. 5, c. 5. 

tt Mystic. Theol. lib. 3, c. 39. 


is great admiration, when the soul is led beyond 
itself, irradiated with the divine light, sustained in 
admiration of the highest beauty, is thrown out of 
itself, and raised up to sublime things. Great love 
is it, when the human mind burns with so great a 
fire of heavenly desires, that the flame of interior 
love increasing above human measure, releases the 
soul from its former state, and raises it up to hea 
venly things. Great joy is it, when the human 
mind, filled with the abundance of interior sweet 
ness, utterly forgets what it is, what it was, and car 
ried away into a superhuman affection, becomes a 
stranger to itself." 

But let us leave this which belongs to the mys 
tics, and which, as being interior matters, is not 
subject to the judgment of the Church, it remains 
for us to speak somewhat of exterior acts, in order 
to explain, with greater clearness, what we have 
spoken of before. We have already said that a 
natural ecstasy is followed by a certain weariness. 
Zacchias* ascribes this to a natural ecstasy, and 
excludes it from supernatural ecstasies. Consalvi 
Durantt seems to agree with him, saying, "that 
his body who is thus raised to the contemplation 
of divine things, is not afterwards, as it might 
seem, left weak and languid, but frequently strong 
and powerful." The Auditors of the Rota rightly 
observe, saying, in their Report in the cause of 
Nicholas Fattore, servant of God : " And when he 
had been in an ecstasy, he returned to conscious 
ness, but in full strength and vigour for enduring 

* Quaest. Medico legal, lib, 4, tit. 1, n. 32. t Loc. cit. c. 3. 


whatever labours were before him. But this is to 
be explained of the condition of the body after the 
rapture or the ecstasy, for it is otherwise while 
the ecstasy or the rapture continues ; as it is 
written, Daniel, x. 10 : " And I, being left alone, 
saw this great vision ; and there remained no 
strength in me, and the appearance of my coun 
tenance was changed in me, and I fainted away, 
and retained no strength." For the powers of the 
mind, being fixed on the contemplation of divine 
things, and the vital heat being collected together 
for the functions of the mind, and the vehemence 
of love flowing into the sensitive part, the powers 
of the body are, of necessity, weakened ; it becomes 
cold, pale, and languid. Cassian* introduces the 
Abbot John, speaking thus : " By the great mercy 
of our Lord, I remember, that I have been often in 
raptures, so as to forget the burden of my bodily 
weakness, and my mind has at once forsaken 
the exterior senses, and banished away from it all 
kind of material objects, so that neither my eyes 
nor my ears performed their usual functions, and 
my soul was so filled with divine meditations and 
spiritual contemplations, that I knew not that I 
had taken food at evening, and on the following 
day was altogether in doubt whether I had ob 
served yesterday s fast." And S. Teresa,! de 
scribing the condition of a man rapt in ecstasy, 
says that his colour fails, his breathing is inter 
rupted, neither the slightest breath or motion is 

* Collat. 19, c. 4, t Castro Animse Mansion, 6. 


perceptible, his limbs become cold and stiff, bis 
countenance pale, and all tbe symptoms of a dead 
or dying person show themselves. 

9. We have said above that in diabolical ecs 
tasies the body may be raised up from the ground, 
and Thomas a Jesu, by many instances of Saints 
rapt in ecstasy, proves that this may occur much 
more in a divine ecstasy. The writer of the Life 
of S. Peter of Alcantara* writes as follows : 
"Then comes raptures and excesses, then his 
being wonderfully carried through the air, so that 
his body, though heavy, is hurried along by the 
motions of a fervent spirit. The author of this 
great work is the merciful Lord, Who usually 
bestows this grace only upon the greatest con- 
templatives. He bestowed it upon S. Teresa, 
and also upon S. Peter of Alcantara, so that while 
praying in the choir, and absorbed in the contem 
plation of God, he was lifted up even to the ceiling 
in the fervour of his spirit. Often while on his 
knees at the foot of a tree, he seemed like a bird 
flying to reach the topmost branches. Sometimes 
he was carried suddenly from the garden into the 
church. If any one spoke of God before him, that 
was to him the occasion of new raptures. Often 
times praying before a wooden crucifix, with his 
hands spread out in the form of a cross, he was 
seen raised up from the earth, to the great wonder 
of those who passed by, and the shepherds." We 
read thus in the Life of S. Thomas Aquinas :f 
" The purity and devotion of the saint in prayer 

* Lib. 4, c. 10, p. 197. + Surius 7, Mar. n. 9, 


was admirable, and when he was employed in the 
contemplation of divine things, so frequently was 
he in rapture that his body was seen suspended 
in the air." 

The Auditors of the Rota write in their Report 
in the cause of S. Teresa : " It is proved that she 
had raptures, and that these were so intense, that 
she was at times lifted up bodily from the 
ground." And in that in the cause of S. Francis 
Xavier : " He was frequently raised up from 
the ground by the power of God ; and once 
when walking in the garden with his hand on 
his breast, he said, Enough, Lord, it is 
enough. " Many other instances are to be found in 
the Report of the cause of S. Philip Neri. When 
I was Promoter of the Faith, the cause of the 
venerable servant of God, Joseph of Cupertino, 
was discussed in the Congregation of Sacred 
Rites, on the doubt about his virtues, which, after 
my resignation of the office, was happily solved ; 
in which unexceptionable eyewitnesses deposed to 
most frequent elevations and great flights on the 
part of that ecstatic and rapt servant of God. 

10. We have already said that disorderly and 
unbecoming movements of the body are a sign of 
diabolical ecstasy. To the authorities which sup 
port this we add that of Silvius,* which, though 
he speaks of prophets, yet is applicable to ecsta- 
tics. Having said that the suspension of the 
senses which takes place in prophets, is not ac 
companied with any disorderment of nature, sub- 

*In 2. 2dse. D. Thorn, qu. 173, art. 3. 


joins : " This principle is extremely useful in 
discerning spirits, whether they come from God, 
which exhibit themselves as prophetic among 
men. For as the Holy Spirit does not violate, 
but perfect natural modesty arid moral conduct, 
the suspension of the senses which proceeds from 
the Holy Ghost is not attended with any disorder- 
ment of nature, and is even without any violation 
of modesty and good conduct. And, therefore, 
that suspension of the senses with palpation of 
the heart sensibly violent, as it involves a disor- 
derment of nature, does not proceed from the 
Holy Ghost : so Cajetan. And in like manner 
if this suspension of the senses be accompanied 
by any unbecoming change or posture of the 
body, whether that be against nature or against 
propriety, the prophetic spirit is not there, but 
either a diabolical, or human, or animal passion, 
or weakness." Hurtado* is of the same opinion. 
We admitted all this in a former paragraph, and 
we readily admit it again, but it must be under 
stood with caution, so that not every unusual 
bodily movement be considered disorderly and 
unbecoming. Richard of S. Victor t compares 
the ecstatic to a fish playing in the water and 
leaping up out of it. It is said in the Life of S. 
Philip Neri,j: that he, while celebrating mass, 
sometimes trembled so greatly as to shake the 
predella of the altar ; also when, at the offertory 
he so exulted with joy as to appear like a para- 

* Var. Tract. 1, tr. 5, c. 6, Resolut. 54, 2 23, n. 1080. 
t De Contempl. 5, c. 14. 
J Lib. 2, c.1. 


tytic ; he could not mingle the water with the 
wine in the chalice till after supporting himself 
by resting with one arm on the altar ; at the 
elevation of the sacred host, his uplifted arms 
remained extended, so that for a time he could 
not bring them down again ; lastly, after conse 
cration he was sometimes so overjoyed that he 
seemed like one dancing, resting his weight on 
the extremities of the toes of his feet. Other 
illustrations occur in the same Life, and through 
out the Life of S. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi ; in 
the Bull of whose canonization we read : " She 
ran through the cloisters with wonderful rapidity, 
tore her garments, and threw away whatever came 
into her hand." 

When during the discussion of the doubt upon 
the virtue of the venerable servant of God Mi 
chael de Sanctio, the promoter of the faith objected, 
in order to show that his ecstasies were not divine, 
that he was in the habit, after prayer, during 
which he fell into them, of going away shouting 
and running to and fro, and against whatever came 
in his way, laying hold of them and embracing 
them ; yet this presented no obstacle to the ap 
probation of his virtues ; arid indeed they obtained 
no small help from the fact of these ecstasies hav 
ing been admitted to be divine. From all this it 
is clear that not all unusual bodily movements, 
but only those which are indecent, especially im 
modest ones, are a sign of diabolic ecstasy ; but 
that merely unusual ones, if other circumstances 
be favourable, may be attributed to divine ecstasy. 

18 VOL. HI. 


James Alvarez* de Paz, treating of ecstasies, 
thus writes from Philo : " The soul that is filled 
with grace immediatelj rejoices, laughs, and exults. 
It becomes so wild that it seems to be drunken 
and mad ; for there is a certain drunkenness of 
the sober, who drink good wine, and to whom per 
fect virtue gives to drink." To the same purport 
Matthseuccif distinguishes correctly between un 
becoming and unusual acts, and concludes that 
these are attributable to divine ecstasy, the for 
mer not. 

11. Finally, we said above that it is a sign of 
diabolical ecstasy when a man speaks with a mind 
disturbed, and of a divine ecstasy when the words 
of the ecstatic redound to the praise of God. 
Thomas a Jesu| says, that he cannot be said to 
be abstracted or rapt who is free to speak or be 
silent, and understands the words he speaks ; and 
if this be so, then the suspension of the senses is 
not perfect, but imperfect. Gravina says that 
among the ecstatics are to be reckoned those who 
are jubilant, and those who break forth ; the 
jubilant are those who leap while in ecstasy, and 
the latter are those who pour forth words. Car 
dinal de Laursea || relates that the servant of God 
Joseph of Cupertino was in the habit of uttering 
a cry when he fell into ecstasy or rapture. Gra- 
vina, as well as Laursea, admits speaking and 
shouting in a divine ecstasy to be as it were signs 

* Tom. 3, col. 1431. f Loc. cit. lib. 3, c. 3, art. 1, n. 18. 

% Loc. cit. disp. 2, c. 9. Lap. Lyd. lib. 2, c. 28. 

II Disp. 20, de miraculis, ar. 23, n. 998. 


of unutterable joy and gladness ; provided the 
words be holy, and the cries and shouting excite 
no horror, as we said before. Shouting unat 
tended by horror is mentioned in the Life of the 
Blessed Angela de Foligno,* and in the Life of S. 
Peter of Alcantara,! written by Father Francis 
Marchesi. To the same effect writes John Cas- 
sian : J " Frequently, indeed, from this unutter 
able joy and gladness of spirit proceeds the fruit 
of most wholesome compunction, so as to break 
forth into shouting through the greatness of an 
unendurable joy ; and joyousness of heart and 
the greatness of the exultation penetrates into the 
neighbouring cell." 

Lastly, it is not to be denied that, speaking of 
divine and supernatural ecstasies, they who fall 
into them often speak. In the year 1 600, Father 
Vergilio Cepari whom we have elsewhere men 
tioned with praise, a theologian of the Company 
of Jesus was the confessor of S. Mary Magdalene 
de Pazzi and the nuns ; their extraordinary con 
fessor, certainly, but with the power of visiting 
them whenever called upon. He had written the 
Life of Aloysius Gonzaga, now canonized, which 
he gave them to read ; he gave them also a por 
tion of his finger, which they desired to have as a 
relic. But when Mary Magdalene was dividing 
particles of the relic among the Sisters, she fell 
suddenly into a divine ecstasy, and uttered at in 
tervals wondrous words, which most fully revealed 

* C. 32. t Lib. 4, c. 2 & 13. 

t Coll. 9, C. 27. 


the highest degree of glory granted to Aloysius in 
heaven. Eighteen of the nuns who were then pre 
sent deposed to the fact. Some of them wrote 
down the words of Mary Magdalene ; and then 
the paper being shown her on which her words 
had been written by those who stood by, she, 
weeping greatly because she was compelled to 
make known the secret gifts of God, confessed 
upon oath, at the bidding of the Archbishop of 
Florence, who for that purpose had entered her cell 
where she was lying ill, that the contents of the 
paper, as therein shown, were true : this was 
proved out of the process made in the cause of 
the canonization of S. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, 
in the cause of the canonization of S. Aloysius 
Gonzaga, by Father Andrew Budrioli, of the So 
ciety of Jesus, the diligent and learned postulator 
of that cause. Finally, the rule is to observe the 
words which fall from the ecstatics, with all their 
circumstances, as Pignatelli* shows by many 

12. From what we have said it may be gathered 
that the ecstatic and the rapt remember what has 
happened to them during their ecstasy and rapture, 
This agrees with what we have said above, while 
speaking of natural and diabolical ecstasy, for 
in them there is no remembrance of what oc 
curred. Silvius,t too, says the same, namely, that 
they are not to be considered true prophets or 
ecstatics, who when abstracted, speak of some 

* Consult. I si, n. 94, Tom. S. 
t In -2. 2dse. Thorn. Tom. S, qu. 173, art, 3. 


things as if they saw them, and afterwards not 
knowing what they saw, refer themselves to what 
they said while they were abstracted. But lest any 
opportunity for error or doubt should result from 
this, it is worth while to consider the doctrine 
laid down by S. Teresa :* that if God reveals 
anything by a vision of the imagination to the en 
raptured, those things remain impressed on the me 
mory, and the ecstatic, returning to himself, can 
relate them ; if He reveals them by an intellectual 
vision, they remain indeed impressed on the mind 
so that they cannot be forgotten, but the ecstatic, 
returning to himself, knows not how to relate them. 
The same saint teaches that the soul, when it re 
turns to itself after an ecstasy, is able to relate 
nothing it saw, nor to remember it, save only in 
a confused and general way, as if one entered 
the cabinet of a king, filled with vases, tables, 
statues, and other ornaments most precious, and 
arranged with wonderful art, all of which at once 
salute the eye, and yet could not recollect each 
particular amid such so vast a variety. In the next 
chapter we shall treat of the imaginary and intel 
lectual vision. Let it be sufficient to have remarked 
this ; lest, either through want of a perfect 
memory, or want of power to relate those things 
which the ecstatic saw, it should be inferred that 
the ecstasy was not beyond the powers of nature, 
as Pignatellif observes, for God does not grant to 
the ecstatic the power of relating, unless it be his 

* Lib, de Castro interiore, cap. 4. 
f Consult. 151, n. 81, Tom. 8. 


duty to prophesy and to reveal for the good of 
others what he saw in his ecstasy. Wherefore S. 
Paul speaks of himself in his rapture ; that he 
" heard secret words which it is not granted to 
man to utter," of which Tertullian* speaks, " The 
condition of them was, that they were to be re 
vealed to no man," which is confirmed by Car 
dinal de Lauraea.t 

13. It remains for us now to speak of ecstasy 
and rapture relatively to beatification and canoni 
zation. It must be proved, in the first place, that 
the ecstasy was not natural, which is chiefly done 
by showing that it was preceded by no infirmity, 
or other cause from which ecstasies might natu 
rally result. The question of diabolical ecstasy 
can scarcely occur under such circumstances, for 
it is incomprehensible that men famous for sanc 
tity whose causes could not have been entered 
upon unless after judicial proof of their constant 
reputation for virtue and miracles should have 
been subject to diabolical ecstasies, unless God 
happily permitted it in order to humble them, as 
Cardinal de LaurasaJ observes, and shows that 
sometimes men given to contemplation may be 
deceived by diabolical ecstasies, or unless what 
is called self-satisfaction and spiritual luxury 
should take place in the ecstasy ; that is, when 
the servant of God regards as the principal end the 
comfort and delight which he experiences during 

* De Prescript, c. 24. 

+ 3 Sent. Tom. 4, disp. 20. art, 23, n. 981. 

J Opusc. 5, de Oration, c. 6. 


the ecstasy, and not the glory of God, as Consalvi 
Durant* and Scacchusf observe. But as these 
are internal matters, the Church cannot certainly 
know that they did not occur, unless she certainly 
knew by witnesses and other proofs that his virtues 
who fell into these ecstasies were heroic. Putting 
aside natural ecstasies and diabolical ecstasies, 
and finding signs of divine ecstasies, according 
to what we have laid down, no doubt can be en 
tertained that the ecstasy itself was divine, as is 
solidly demonstrated by the Auditors of the Rota 
in their Report in the cause of S. Catherine de 

14. The character of the ecstasy being ascer 
tained, yet of itself, although divine and proceed 
ing from God, it does not help to prove sanctity, 
for it neither sanctifies, nor is it an effect of sanc 
tifying grace, being a grace gratis data. Where 
fore, in order that it may be taken into account 
in the process of beatification and canonization, 
it is necessary to prove that the ecstatic was en 
dowed with heroic virtues ; for then it will be a 
sign of sanctity and of the ecstatic s love of God, 
and on the other hand, of God s love to him. It is 
a question among theologians whether the ecstatic 
gains merit by acts of the intellect during the 
ecstasy, as seeing, and of the will, as loving. Car 
dinal de Laura3a| says that the ecstatics gain 
merit by the acts which precede the ecstasy as 

* De Visionibus, c. 3, p. 52. 

+ De not. et sign. Sanctit. 22 8, c. 3, p. 608, 

t Loc. Cit. n. 499. 


they are free, employed upon a good object and 
circumstances, as are the other acts of religion 
and faith ; but that they gain no merit by those 
acts which occur during their ecstasies, for these 
are not free. Suarez* on the contrary main 
tains that they are free, and therefore meritori 
ous, and herein he is followed by Father Antony 
of the Annunciation,! and Gravina.:f 

But setting this aside, which is discussed at 
length by Father Thomas a Jesu.g as these 
divine ecstasies are for the most part not 
granted to every one of the faithful, nor to 
those of ordinary spiritual attainments, but 
only to the perfect and established in the spi 
ritual life, and so to those who are remark 
able for virtues, and especially for their charity, 
as may be seen in the acts of S. Francis, S. 
Dominic, S. Antony, S. Bonaventure, S. Cath 
erine of Sienna, S. Teresa. Divine ecstasies, 
therefore, accompanied with heroic virtues, in 
causes of beatification and canonization, though 
not directly, as the schoolmen say, yet indirectly 
furnish some evidence of sanctity, as is shown by 
Cardinal de Laursea,|| Scacchus,1T Matta,** and 

And though the ecstasies immediately sent 

* De relig. Tom, 2, lib. 2, c. 20, n. 5.. 
f Discept. Mystic, tr. 4, qu. 2, art. 9. 
% De Vision. Intellect, lib. 2, c. 18. 

Opp, Tom. 2, part 1, Enucleat. Theolog. Mystic S. Dronys. qu. 27. 
U Loc. cit. n. 991, f Loc. cit. p. 809. 

+ * De Canon. SS. part 3, c. 4, n. 31. 
tt Pract. Theolog. Canon, tr. 3, c. 3, art, 1, n. 1C. 


from God, without any previous application 
or strong human attention, may be called mar 
vellous, and those also which are experienced by 
men working with supernatural help, and firmly 
adhering to those divine truths apprehended by 
them, yet are they never approved as special mir 
acles by the Apostolic See, as Cardinal de Lau- 
rsea* shows, alleging the practice of the Sacred 
Congregation, unless it chanced that they were 
attended by some supernatural sign, as the shin 
ing of the face, and the like, for then that shin 
ing, and the rays issuing from the face, may be 
approved as miracles, as his Eminence! shows, 
saying, " And hence it is, that, as I have experi 
enced these thirty years, when the canonization 
of a servant of God is in question, and an inves 
tigation of his miracles takes place, his ecstasies 
are not accounted among them, unless they be 
supported by some evident supernatural sign. 
This is said by our author after he had stated that 
ecstasy or rapture is not connected with acquired 
contemplation, for the contemplation may be at 
times so vehement as to produce a natural ecs 
tasy. Although special grace is requisite for the 
act of contemplating profitably, when, however, 
the ecstatic, having obtained it, is in the act of 
contemplation, he may, by his own effort, apply 
so intensely to that act, as that an ecstasy shall 
be the result. 

15. Father Baldelli, in his MS. work, speaking 

* Loc. cit. n. 967. 
t Opusc. de Orat. c. 6, p. 309. 


of the ecstasies of Arsilia Altissima, shows clearly 
how her ecstasies were divine, and how they might 
help to prove her sanctity, though they should 
not be considered miraculous, and were even 
somewhat natural. These are his words : " But 
with reference to these matters, particularly in 
Arsilia, it is most certain she was in raptures, not 
only when in prayer was she more collected, but 
at the mere speaking, or hearing others speak, of 
the things of God. At one time she was cold and 
chilled, with but slight appearance of pulsation 
and breathing. At other times, on the contrary, 
she was on fire, and inflamed to such a degree, 
that the perspiration ran down her whole body, 
and remained for some time always motionless, not 
hearing any one who called her, or feeling when 
she was touched. When she returned to con 
sciousness, she was extremely weak, and ashamed 
if any body had observed her ; she would humbly 
implore their forgiveness, excuse herself and say 
that amid her many failings was this of drowsi 
ness, and among her many shortcomings was that 
of not attending to those who were about her. 
Her ecstasies were not of the apprehensive, nor of 
the appetitive powers only, but of one and of the 
other. Now they began in the one and ended in 
the other, and again beginning in the latter they 
ended in the former. However, she felt great 
pains bodily in her heart, which appeared as if 
ready to burst, so that she was forced to break 
forth into sighs and groans ; sometimes it ap 
peared to have become so large as not to be con 
tained in her bosom ; sometimes it was as if cut 


with razors, so that her whole system was in 
agony. I doubt not that this was from God, and 
that grace from which all good thoughts and 
desires proceed ; but I believe that substantially 
it does not transcend this order of grace, or the 
good habit she had of thinking of the things of 
God, assisted also by nature and temperament, 
whereby her conceptions and affections were so 
great, and influenced her body so much as to 
make her weak if she had any cause of grief, and 
even to faint, as it sometimes happened at the 
departure of some spiritual father. So far as I 
know, her face was not shining, nor was she 
lifted up from the ground, but we must not from 
these alone measure the truth of ecstasies and the 
greatness of sanctity." 



1. IT has been well observed by Cardinal de 
Laursea,* that visions are not always connected 
with ecstasies, He says that visions, apparitions, 
and revelations are not always and of necessity 
connected with ecstasies and raptures, and simple 
contemplation : this he maintains on the ground 
of reason and of fact. In the Holy Scripture s 
visions and apparitions are promised to no class 
of persons ; and in the second place, on the ground 

* Opusc. 1, de Orat. c. 8. 


of fact, many contemplatives, and in particular 
those of acquired contemplation, and many ecsta- 
tics and enraptured, neither had nor have either 
visions, or apparitions, or revelations, but only 
illumination with reference to the objects of their 
contemplations. The same writer says, that vi 
sions may be said to be revelations, and otherwise 
if they be of secret, future, present, or past sub 
jects ; and on the part of God, Who shows these 
things, or the devil deceiving, they may be called 
revelations, and on the part of man, who receives 
them, visions. Cardinal Bona* says that the 
terms vision and apparition may be used for one 
and the same thing ; but there is this difference, 
that an apparition is that which presents itself to 
our contemplation, but without our knowing what 
it is ; but a vision is that, the understanding of 
which is given also with the external apparition. 
The subject is thus explained by Bordoni :f " Ap 
paritions are visions in reference to those who see 
the marvellous thing." 

2. It is certain that the invisible God appeared 
in a visible form at times under the old Testa 
ment, and that eleven times. The first was when 
He was pleased to appear to our first parents, the 
second to their son Cain, the third to Noe, the 
fourth to the maid Agar, the fifth to Abraham, the 
sixth to Lot, the seventh to Jacob, the eighth to 
Moses, the ninth to Josue, the tenth to Gedeon, 
the eleventh to the parents of Samson. We learn 

* De Discret. Spirit, c. 15, n. 2. 
t Medit. 3, de Miraculosa apparit, SS. n, 20. 


also from various instances in the old Testament, 
that God spoke with an external voice, and was 
heard. To pass over the instances in the history 
of Moses, God spoke nine times to Abraham ; the 
first time was when He bade him leave his coun 
try and go into, the land of Chanaan ; the second, 
when He promised that land to his seed after he 
had obeyed the commandment of the Lord ; the 
third, when He repeated to him that promise after 
Lot had gone to the country of Sodom : the 
fourth, when He promised posterity to Abraham 
which should equal in number the stars of heaven; 
the fifth, when He gave the precept of circumci 
sion ; the sixth, when Abraham entertained three 
angels in human form ; the seventh, when He 
bade him send away his son with the maid, ac 
cording to the desire of his wife ; the eighth, when 
He commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac ; the 
ninth, when He forbade him to do so. There are 
innumerable other instances of God speaking visi 
bly in the old Testament, 

Whether, however, and wherein a voice only was 
heard, and nothing seen, and wherein God speaking, 
was not only heard but seen, it is not our present 
purpose to enquire. Let it be sufficient to observe, 
that the external voice of God has been heard, now 
from a cloud, now from a burning bush, now through 
fire, now in the whirlwind, now in the whistling of a 
gentle air, now from the Propitiatory, now from 
heaven, and now by Urim and Thummim. The 
upper part of the ark was called the Propitiatory, 
the covering, the oracle. This covering was the 
two cherubims, not of molten, but of beaten gold, 


looking one towards another, and spreading forth 
their wings like hands towards each other. From 
the Propitiatorj God promised to speak to Moses, 
and did speak to him, as we read, Num. vii. 89. 
As to the Urim and Thummim, as it is certain 
that God was consulted by Urim and Thummim, 
by king, prince, or sanhedrim, in grave, doubtful, 
and sudden emergencies touching the security of 
the Church or state, and that He revealed through 
the high priest what ought to be done, as we learn 
from 1 Kings xxiii. 9, and xxx. 7, so it is very un 
certain what the Urim and Thummim was, whe 
ther the stones of the Rational with the names 
inscribed thereon of the twelve patriarchs, whether 
the letters of the names of God, or the light that 
shone forth from the twelve patriarchs, or the two 
words Doctrine and Truth inscribed on the 
Rational, or an hollow instrument ingeniously 
wrought, or a small likeness of man which the 
chief priest carried within the folds of the Ra 
tional. This is discussed at length by Noel Alex 
ander, in his Ecclesiastical History of the Old 
Testament,* and by Calmet, in his Biblical Dic 
tionary, and by Lamg.f who explains them thus : 
that God had given virtue to the ephod of the 
High priest, so that it should be an oracle, caus 
ing the High priest to understand from the shin 
ing of the stones what was acceptable, and what 
He was promising. 

3. Thus much with respect to the bodily visions 
and apparitions of God in the Old Testament. 

* Art. 3, ? 9, n, 8, 
t De Tabernaculo, lib. 3, ?2 4. 


Now to proceed to that which relates to the ideal 
and intellectual apparitions of God, and the angels 
and souls in the Old Testament, we say, in the first 
place, that the bodily, ideal, and intellectual 
vision and apparition are of three kinds, of which 
we shall speak below : and that we must reckon 
among the imaginary apparitions of God in the 
Old Testament, that of which we read in 3 Kings, 
iii,, when he appeared to Solomon in a dream, 
that he might ask of Him what he desired, and 
also that of which we read in Esther, xi. 6, when 
Mardochai, in a dream, saw voices, and tumults, 
and thunders, and earthquakes. Among the 
instances of intellectual vision must be reckoned 
all those visions and apparitions in which it is 
certain that God spoke and appeared, and uncer 
tain whether He appeared under an outward form, 
and spoke with a human voice. Such was that 
described in 4 Kings, iii., when the three kings 
that is, the king of Israel, the king of Juda, and 
the king of Edom, about to fight with the king of 
Moab, were in distress through want of water, in 
the desert of Edom inquired of Eliseus the will of 
God, and the hand of the Lord came upon him, 
and he said : " Make the channel of this torrent 
full of ditches." As the prophet Eliseus was not 
then asleep, or in a reverie, neither do we read 
that God appeared in visible form, or spoke with 
an audible and external voice, we can come to no 
other conclusion, than that God spoke to his spirit 
without words. Such was that by which the pro 
phet understood what he was to reveal to Joas, 
king of Israel, of which we read in 4 Kings, xiii. 


Tostatus* lays down a general rule, whenever in 
Scripture it is said to the prophets : " Thus saith 
the Lord," there we are to understand it of the 
apparition or intellectual speaking of God. In 
reference to the apparition of angels and souls in 
the Old Testament, angels appeared immediately 
from the beginning of the world to the first au 
thors, after God, of the human race ; and, in 
diverse ways dealt with the Patriarchs, as we read 
in the book of Genesis ; the law was delivered to 
the Jews, not by the ministry of men only, but by 
that of angels also, as we read in Acts vii. Onias 
the priest, and Jeremias the prophet, long after 
their death, showed themselves in a vision to Judas 
Machabeus, and encouraged him to fight against 
the impious enemies of his country. 

We read in 1 Kings xxviii., that Samuel was 
raised from the dead, and appeared to Saul; and 
there is a question whether it was the soul of 
Samuel that appeared, or only a spectre resem 
bling Samuel. S. Augustinet discusses the sub 
ject, and seems to say that either opinion may be 
maintained. In Eccies. xlvi. 23, it is said in praise 
of Samuel that after his death "he made known 
to the king, and showed him the end of his life." 
And as it could be no praise to Samuel, that the 
devil, assuming his appearance, should speak to 
Saul, and deceive him, persuading him that he 
was what he was not ; hence it is, many conclude 
that the soul itself of Samuel, at the bidding of 

(Jomm. in Exod. c. II, qu. 2. 
t Lib. 2, ad Simp ic. qu. 3. 


God, assumed an aerial body, and appeared, al 
though the witch had had recourse to enchant 
ments. For as God appeared to Balaam in the 
practice of enchantments, not because of his 
enchantments, but anticipating and hindering 
their effect, so while the witch had recourse to 
enchantments, God anticipated them, sending the 
soul of Samuel, and hindering their effect. But it 
is said how far the witch had carried on her 
enchantments, for it may be maintained that she 
had not begun them, but that God anticipated the 
witch, who was preparing to have recourse to 
enchantments, at the request of Saul, and called 
Samuel by His own power. We do not read that 
the witch had made use of enchantments to call up 
Samuel, but that, when Saul asked the woman to 
bring up Samuel, saying, "Bring me up Samuel," 
Samuel appeared, and it is then added, " When 
the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud 
voice, and said to Saul, why hast thou deceived 
me?" as if astonished at the appearance of Sam 
uel before her enchantments. This question is 
discussed by S. Thomas,* to whom we refer the 
reader. Among the moderns, Calmet treats of it 
at length, and Noel Alexander has illustrated it 
with great learning in his ecclesiastical history of 
the Old Testament.! 

4. According to the general opinion of theolo 
gians, the apparitions of God under the old Law 
were not personal, but, as they say, impersonal : 

* 1, qu, 89, art. 8, 2. 2dse. q. 95, art. 4, qu. 174, art. 6. 

1 Tom. 2, prop. unic. 


for God Himself did not assume a body and 
appear, but He did that bj the ministry of 
angels who represented Him : as Durant proves, "* 
where he shows how it may be said that God ap 
peared, although an angel appeared bodily, repre 
senting God, and how it is that angels might say, 
"I am the Lord thy God," although the prophets 
usually say, " Thus saith the Lord." Thyrseusf 
agrees with him when he says of the visible appear 
ance of God under the old Testament, that God 
Himself never assumed a body : and when it is said 
in the old Testament that He was visible, all these 
visible apparitions were accomplished by the min 
istry and service of angels, who formed and as 
sumed bodies, and represented God. For bodies 
which become visible to human eyes, I mean 
aerial bodies ought to be easily made and formed, 
and to admit of human colour, and when they are 
laid aside, or dissolved, to leave nothing behind 
which the eyes of the bystanders can discern, 
as the same author proves in the same place. j 

The angels, who are called ministering spirits, 
form voices by which, we say, that God some 
times spoke under the old Testament. For that 
which Moses saith, God spoke, Exod. xx 1, " And 
the Lord spoke all these words : I am the Lord 
thy God, which brought thee out of the land of 
Egypt," the Apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews 
attributes to angels : " For if the word spoken by 
angels became stedfast, and every transgression 

* De Visionibus, c. 4. 
t De apparit. visibili, lib. 1, c. 23. J C. 18. 


and disobedience received a just recompense of 
reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great 
salvation." The same thing is said by S. Stephen, 
Acts. vii. 53 : "Who have received the law by the 
disposition of angels, and have not kept it." An 
gels also were the efficient causes of those ideal 
apparitions of the old Testament, and especially 
of those which occurred during sleep. An angel 
appeared to Jacob while he was asleep, Genes, 
xxxi. 13, and commanded him to leave the house 
of Laban, and go to his native country. It was 
an angel who bade Elias when he was sleeping to 
arise and eat, 3 Kings, xix. 5, 7. And though it 
is said in Genes, xxii. 2, that God commanded 
Abraham to sacrifice his son, yet we learn from 
the same place, that it was an angel that did this ; 
" And behold an angel of the Lord called to him, 

saying, Abraham lay not thy hand upon the 

boy now I know that thou fearest God, and 

hast not spared thy only begotten son for my 

All this is fully treated of by Thyrseus in his 
work so often referred to, who* also examines 
at great length whether God, in the revelation 
and the intellectual speaking, speaks Himself, or 
by the ministry of others ; and after premising 
that there are species in these intellectual visions, 
apparitions, revelations, and speeches, which are 
images of the objects revealed ; that there is also 
light, in which the illuminated intellect has cog 
nizance of the objects ; and again, that the species 

* De apparit. Intellect, c. 10. 


are of two kinds, either they are newly granted or 
existed before, but in the speech of God receive a 
new application : likewise, that a new light above 
nature either is added to that which is natural 
and connate, or is not added, but is helped by a 
certain natural industry of him who speaks : con 
cludes that the new species which God reveals, are 
bestowed by Him alone, not by angels this he also 
asserts of the light which is newly communica 
ted to the intellect and that the angels make a 
new application of the species already existing, 
and enlighten the intellect when no new light is 

Peter Cunseus* is of opinion, that when the 
sacred Scriptures say, God appeared, we are not 
to understand them to speak of an angel, as the 
Legate of God, but rather of the Divine Word, or 
the Second Person of the most Holy Trinity, who 
made Himself even then in human form visible to 
the patriarchs. He is followed by Bernard Lamg,t 
and lately by Father Graveson.} But we must 
not abandon the first opinion, as it is one widely 
maintained by the Fathers and the scholastic the 
ologians. Therefore, having alleged the Fathers, 
Cardinal Bona$ thus proceeds : " Whatever divine 
manifestations, or appearances of God we read of, 
they were accomplished by angels through whose 
ministry they came to our fathers. The ancient 
fathers are singularly agreed in this, and the 

* De Republ. Hebr. lib. 3, c. 3. 

t Apparat. Biblic. p. 26. 

t Hist. Eccles. Veter. Testam. Tom. 2, colloqu. 2. 
De Discret. Spirit, c. 19, n. 3. 


chief of the schoolmen do not dissent from their 

5. We now come to visions and apparitions, 
mention of which is made in the New Testament. 
Among these is that celebrated one of Paul, the 
teacher of the Gentiles, which he speaks of in 
2 Corinth, xii. 2, saying, that he was " rapt even 
to the third heaven,.,. and heard secret words 
which it is not granted to man to utter." There 
is also another vision of the Prince of the Apostles, 
Acts x. 10, where it is written, " There^came upon 
him an ecstasy of mind," and the Apocalypse of 
the Apostle S. John is filled with visions and 
apparitions. There is a question among theolo 
gians whether any man during this life can see the 
essence of God ; the question relates to a mere 
man, for it is of the certainty of faith that Christ 
our Lord saw the essence of God while He was in 
this world from the instant of His conception, for 
He was Blessed from the instant of his conception. 
The common opinion among them is, that a mere 
man during this life cannot naturally attain to 
the clear vision of God, for while the soul remains 
in the body it naturally knows only what has 
material form. It is manifest that by nature, and 
the similitudes of material things, there can be no 
clear vision of God, and that the knowledge of 
God which is by similitude, is not the knowledge 
of God in His essence, or of the essence of God. 

The same theologians everywhere admit that God 
may in an extraordinary way, and by a special 
privilege, raise men in this mortal life to the clear 
vision of God ; for God, the Author and Lord of 


nature, can release whom He pleases from tlie 
law of working and understanding by the help of 
the senses, either by restraining the external senses 
so that they shall not act, or by giving to the in- 
tellect the light of glory, either transiently or per 
manently, as He gave it to Christ. Whether this 
was so in the vision of Paul, as it was in that of 
Moses, of which we read in Num. xii. and Exod. 
xxxiii., is still a question among theologians. The 
opinion of S. Augustine* is generally accepted, 
who inclines to the affirmative, and herein he is 
followed by S. Thomas,! not so, however, as that 
Moses and Paul saw the essence of God as to all 
mysteries, and had the full vision as to all things 
so as to become blessed, but so as that their vision 
was intermediate between the vision of the blessed 
and the vision of the other prophets, not permanent, 
but transient. It is, therefore, rather strange that 
Silvius, in his Commentary on S. Thomas, and 
Noel Alexander, in his Commentary on the Epistle 
to the Corinthians, in other respects faithful 
disciples of S. Thomas, should, in this instance, 
have departed from his teaching. 

6. In the New Testament also we have many 
apparitions of our Lord Christ ; He made Himself 
visible at three seasons, the first after His birth 
before His Passion, the second after His Resur 
rection, the third after His ascension. After His 
birth and before His Passion He appeared to the 

* De Genes, ad lit. 12, Ep. 147, c. 13. 

t 1, qu. 12, art. 11, 2. 2dae. qu. 175, art. 3, 4, rtist. 49, qu. 2, art. 7. De 
Verit. 10, art. 1. 


shepherds in the manger, who worshipped Him; to 
the wise men, who offered gifts ; to the Jews and 
the chiefs of the synagogue, who heard Him dis 
puting in the temple ; to the lame, the blind, and 
deaf, who received from Him the power of walk 
ing, seeing, and hearing; to the dead whom He 
brought back to life ; to pass over all others who 
saw Him before His Passion. He had indeed a 
real, not a fantastic body, and by the power of His 
soul was able to manifest Himself as often as He 
pleased. We learn from the Gospels, Matth. xxvi. 
Mark xviii,, John xx., that He appeared to many 
after His resurrection. Rodolphus, in his Life of 
Christ, says that these apparitions were fourteen 
in number, ten only of which he thinks are men 
tioned by the Evangelists. But Maldonate* says 
that he found thirteen in the Sacred Writings. 
But be it as it may with respect to the number; 
when Christ appeared after His resurrection and 
before His ascension, His apparition was personal, 
though immediately after the resurrection He ap 
peared to the disciples as a stranger on the way 
to Emmaus, and as the gardener to Magdalene ; 
for Christ by His mere will could cause His body 
without a new miracle to change the senses of the 
beholders, as Durantf says after Maldonate. The 
apparitions of Christ after His ascension into hea 
ven, and which are recorded in the New Testa 
ment, were not all impersonal ; but it is most pro 
bable that the one of which the Apostle speaks, 

* Com. in Matth. xxviii. 
t De vision, c. 4. 


1 Corinth, xv. 3, was personal : " For I delivered 
unto you first of all what I also received, how that 
Christ died for our sins, according to the Scrip 
tures ; and that He was seen by Cephas, and after 
that by the eleven. Then was He seen by more 
than five hundred brethren at once... After that 
He was seen by James, then by all the Apostles. 
And last of all He was seen also by me, as by one 
born out of due time." This vision took place 
some years after the ascension. And as the 
Apostle says that Christ was seen by him as He 
had been seen by Cephas, and James, and by more 
than five hundred brethren, and all the Apostles ; 
and as he, in 1 Corinth, ix. 1, proves from this 
vision and apparition of Christ that he was not 
less an Apostle than the others. " Am I not an 
Apostle?" he says, "have not I seen Christ Jesus 
our Lord?" all this tends to show that this vision 
and apparition was personal, although it is pro 
bable that the other visions which took place after 
the ascension of Christ may be said not to have 
been personal, as Thyrseus* shows at length. 

S. Ambrose! relates that Christ appeared to S. 
Peter, prince of the Apostles : " The same after 
wards, having defeated Simon, while teaching the 
precepts of God to the people, and inculcating 
chastity, roused the fury of the heathens. While 
they were in search of him, the Christians im 
plored him to retire for a time. And although he 
was eager for martyrdom, yet he suffered himself 

* De Christ! Apparitione Impersonal!, c. 8. 
t In Auxent. de Basilic, n. 13, Tom. 1, col. 866. 


to be moved by the prayers of his people. They 
entreated him to reserve himself for the instruc 
tion and confirmation of his flock. Why speak 
more ? At night he left the city, and at the gate 
thereof he saw Christ enter it, and said to Him, 
Lord, whither goest thou ? Christ answered, I 
come to be crucified again. Peter understood 
the divine answer to mean his own crucifixion. 
Christ could not be crucified again. He had put 
off his mortal body, and had suffered the pains of 
death ; Peter then understood that Christ was to be 
crucified in His servant, and so willingly returned. 
He gave this answer to the questions of the Chris 
tians ; and being immediately seized, glorified our 
Lord Jesus Christ by his crucifixion." This is re 
corded in the Acts of S. Processus and S. Marti- 
nian, which are not regarded by some as altoge 
ther genuine, yet so far is that from derogating 
from the credit of S. Ambrose, that it rather adds 
to it ; for it may be inferred from it, that he de 
rived the fact from authentic sources, as Tille- 
mont* correctly remarks. There is still at Rome 
a small church, erected in memory of this appari 
tion, called Domine quo vadis, as Panvinif and 
SeyeranoJ report. Some persons consider it pro 
bable that this apparition of Christ was personal, 
among whom is Pignatelli.^ 

Be it as it may whether the apparition to 
S. Paul was personal, and ho w far that was 
so which occurred to Peter, theologians inquire 

* Not. 39, ad Vit. S. Peter. t De Sept. Urbis Eccle?. p. 131. 
* In Eodem tract, part 1, p. 4G2. Cor. suit. Canon. l>[>, n. 8, torn. f). 


whether Christ descended from heaven to 
earth. S. Thomas* thinks it not improbable 
that Christ left heaven for a time, and descended 
to the earth ; although we read in the Scrip 
tures that Christ ascended into heaven, and 
sitteth at the right hand of God, and will descend 
on the day of the last judgment, as we read in 
Acts i. and iii. Yet this proves only that heaven 
is the peculiar and permanent abode of Christ, 
where, as in His own kingdom, or His own throne, 
He dwells and sits ; but it is not to be inferred 
that He remains there ever immoveable. John 
Majorf is of opinion that Christ, since His ascen 
sion into heaven, has never left the heavenly 
courts, and yet has sometimes appeared on earth 
in a visible form by the true presence of His Body, 
being indeed in two places at once, as they say 
quantitatively and circumscriptively. Suarez J says 
that it is simply and absolutely true that Christ 
after His ascension has been sometimes on earth, 
but uncertain whether He was then absent from 
heaven or not. 

7. Martin del Rio speaks at length of the 
visions and apparitions which are recorded in 
ecclesiastical history, and so also does Gravina.j| 
That we may not repeat ourselves, we shall speak 
here only of some of the apparitions, which are 
chiefly mentioned by theologians. The first is 
that of S. Benedict, which S. Gregory speaks of in 

* part. qu. 57, art. 6. t 4 Dist. 10, qu. 4. 

t In 3 part. D. Thorn. Tom. 2, qu. 58, art. 4. 
Disquis. Magic, qu. 20. U Lap. Lyd. p. 29 G5. 


his Life. He saw the whole world before him, 
collected together, as it were, beneath one ray of 
the sun, and while he was intently beholding the 
splendour of that light, he saw angels carry the 
soul of Germanus, bishop of Capua, to heaven. 
Peter wondered the Life of S. Benedict is written 
by S. Gregory, in the form of a dialogue and 
asked how it could be that one man saw the whole 
world. S. Gregory replies : " Remember then, 
Peter, that all creation is small to a soul beholding 
the Creator." These words, which, with others, 
may be read in the writings of S. Gregory, have 
given an opportunity to theologians to inquire, 
whether the holy Father Benedict saw in that 
vision the essence of God. Sandeus, Hsefren, 
Angelus de Nuce, maintain the affirmative ; and 
the same side is taken by Erasmus Gattola,* 
Abbot of S. Matthew, of the servants of God, and 
keeper of the Archives of Cassino, a very learned 
man. But S. Thomast is not willing to infer from 
the words of S. Gregory, that S. Benedict, in that 
vision, saw God in His essence, but only that, by the 
illumination of the Divine light, it could easily be 
accomplished, so that all things might be seen. Of 
this vision the holy doctor speaks in another 
place, :f where, after premising that it is impossible 
for the human mind, united with the body, to see 
the essence of God, unless he were dying, or 
withdrawn from the senses, so as not to know 
whether he was in the body or out of the body, 

* Hist. Abbat. Cassin. part. 1, ssec. 1, p. 5. 
t 2. 2dae. qu. 180, art. 5. t Quodlibet. qu. 1, art. 1. 


as we read of S. Paul, he concludes as follows : 
" But the blessed Benedict, when he saw that 
vision, was neither thoroughly dead to this life, 
nor withdrawn from the bodily senses, as appears 
from this, that while the vision continued he 
called to another to behold it, as the same Gregory 
relates, from which it is manifest that he did not 
see the essence of God." 

8. Another apparition, of which we must here 
speak, is that of Christ our Lord, in the Sacrament 
of the Altar, under species and forms strange and 
unusual. There are many instances of this appa 
rition on record. At one is seen in the Sacred 
Host a man, at another, part of man, at another, 
an infant, at another, blood. Instances of this 
may be found in Thyrseus,* Bozio,t Theophilus 
Raynaud,j: Christian Lupus, Penia, in his Life of 
S. Raymund de Pennafort,|| and by Cesario the 
Cistercian. 1f S. Thomas** discusses the question, 
and shows that such an apparition may take place 
in two ways ; first, on the part of the beholders, 
in whose eyes a change may be wrought, so that 
they expressly see flesh, or blood, or an infant, 
there being no change in the sacrament ; secondly, 
by a change in the sacramental species themselves. 
He says that it may happen in the first manner, 
when one sees the apparition, and others see it 

* Tr. 2, de Apparit. Sacrament alibus. c. 11, 12. 

+ De Sign. Eccles. lib. 14, c. 7. 

* Opp. Tom. 6, de Apparit. in Euch. Sacr. ??5. 

Tom, 11, p. ;-GG. || Lib. 1, c. 26. 

1i lllust. Miracul. lib. 9. c. 2, 3. ** 3, part. qu. 76, art. 8. 


not, and the second is when, under the species, all 
see a body, flesh, blood, and that not for an hour, 
but for a long time. Moreover, he says that 
Christ remains in the sacrament in the first way 
as well as the second ; in the first, there is no 
change in the sacrament ; in the second, dimen 
sions continuing, which are the foundations of the 
other accidents, the Body of Christ must be said 
to remain in the sacrament ; no deception results 
either in the first or second way from the appari 
tion, for the apparition is granted, in order to 
make manifest that Christ is truly in the sacra 

The teaching of S. Thomas on this point is 
illustrated and adopted by Theophilus Raynaud, "- 
Father Philip Maria of S, Paul,t Discalced 
Carmelite, Father Passerini,J and by Cardinal 
Cienfuegos,^ of happy memory. Henry, bishop of 
Lu9on, published certain ecclesiastical conferences 
of the priests and curates of his diocese. In the 
first part of these conferences || it is shown at 
length that man, by his natural powers, cannot 
see the Body of Christ under the species of bread 
and wine in the sacrament of the altar, and then 
these miraculous apparitions in the sacrament are 
discussed, namely, of a body, blood, or flesh; and 
the teaching of S. Thomas is there confirmed and 
explained at length. Cardinal de Vitry also 
speaks of them, and testifies to them : " But since 

* Loc. cit. 22 9. t De Sacris Apparit. II 1. 

+ In 3 part, D. Thorn, qu. 86, art. 8. 

Vita. Abscondit, disp, 2, cit. 6, 2 1, n. 101. 

|| Confer. 12, qu. 2. 


the incomprehensible and marvellous depth of this 
sacrament exceeds all understanding, we are 
commanded to believe, forbidden to discuss. God, 
therefore, to strengthen the faith of the weak in 
this sacrament, has shown forth the truth of it by 
diverse miracles. Indeed, the likeness of flesh 
with blood has been frequently seen in the holy 
sacrament, through the power of our Lord. And 
I, with my own eyes, have seen it, in the monas 
tery of Premontre, at Braine, in France." 

9. Thus far of heavenly visions. We have now 
to speak of other visions and apparitions which 
proceed from the devil, or from natural causes. 
The devil transforms himself into an angel of 
light. In the old Testament he entered into the 
body of the serpent, and, as by an instrument 
moved, struck and modulated, in a certain way 
imitated, as well as he could, the human voice, as 
it is explained by S. John Chrysostom, Procopius, 
and S. Augustine, quoted by Cornelius a Lapide, 
in his commentaries upon Genesis. He then spoke 
to Eve, who thought that the serpent had obtained 
the function of speech, not by nature, but by some 
supernatural operation, as S. Thomas* says, and 
asked her why she did not eat of the fruit in the 
midst of Paradise. She replied, that God had 
forbidden it on pain of death ; he said, Gen. iii. 4, 
"No; you shall not die the death. For God doth 
know that in what day soever you shall eat there 
of, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as 
gods, knowing good and evil." In the new Testa- 

* 1 part. qu. 94, art. 4. 


merit, too, Christ our Lord suffered Himself to be 
tempted by the devil, that to overcome his temp 
tations He might be a mediator, not only by His 
help, but also by His example, as S. Augustine * 
says. In that temptation, mentioned by S. Mat 
thew, and also by S. Luke, the devil appeared to 
our Lord, and showed Him the kingdoms of the 
world, promising to give them to Him if He would 
fall down and adore him. Arauxof says that this 
apparition of the devil was accomplished by his 
assuming an aerial body : " He can create appa 
ritions by an aerial body, condensing the air so 
that it shall assume a human form, arid resemble 
him whom he wishes to represent. It is of faith 
that he has created such apparitions, when in the 
figure of a man he tempted Christ fasting in the 
wilderness." The subject is further discussed by 
Durant, j and Rocca^ is of the same opinion. 

Of Ideal visions and apparitions, which are 
wrought by the power of the devil, Cardinal 
Bona|| speaks: "The devil, too, has his prophets 
and dreamers, whose imagination he influences, 
representing and suggesting many things to it." 
And again : " They transform themselves into 
the likenesses of living persons, and place spectres 
before men s eyes, or before their imaginations, 
and images and resemblances of things and per 
sons : and as the poets say of the fabulous Pro 
teus, turn themselves into all forms, that they 

* De Trinit lib. 4. c. 13. 
t Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23, n. 104. 

t De Visionibus, c. 2. $ verum. 2 De Canon. SS. c. 15. 

II De Discret. Spirit, c. 16, n. *. 


may seduce and destroy wretched mortals." On 
this subject Pignatelli* speaks at length. The 
fancy, in truth, can be the source of many effects, 
and many changes and disturbances in one s own 
person, as well in another, by exciting and direct 
ing those other faculties of the soul which have 
the power of moving and changing. Hence we 
see that the children are marked because of the 
imagination of their parents, the saliva rises to 
the mouth by dwelling in imagination upon dainty 
food ; they who imagine themselves to be suffering 
under certain diseases sometimes fall into them ; 
finally, persons imagine that they see what they 
do not see, hear what they do not hear, and feel 
what they do not feel, as it is well observed by 
Thomas Fienus.f 

As to visions and apparitions which pro 
ceed from natural causes, much will be said 
below, taken from the MS. of F. Baldelli. But 
in the vision or apparition purely intellectual 
no deception can take place, as Cardinal Bonaf 
says : " In this there can be no error, no decep 
tion ; the rest are liable to errors and illusions." 
And again : " No diabolical illusion can disturb 
the purely intellectual vision, whether the repre 
sentation of things to the intellect be through 
species infused by God, or considered in the judg 
ment upon those things which is formed by the 
light coming down from the Father of lights ; for 
when these two do not depend upon the sense and 

* Consult. 55, n. 2 et 3, Tom. 4, + De Viribus Imagination is, qu. 8. 
t De Discret. Spirit, c. 15, n. 3. 


imagination, no creature can interfere therein." 
He who desires to know more of visions and appa 
ritions, either of devils or of evil angels, may read 

10. From what we have hitherto said, the in 
ference is, that visions and apparitions are of 
many kinds : some natural, as deriving themselves 
from natural causes ; some preternatural, pro 
ceeding from preternatural causes ; also that a 
preternatural vision is threefold, namely, bodily, 
ideal, and intellectual. The term bodily is ap 
plied to that which comes under the cognizance of 
the sight as well as that of the other senses, ac 
cording to S. Augustine :f " To see is properly a 
property of the eyes. But we apply this word 
also to the other senses, when we apply them for 
the purpose of understanding. We say not only, 
see what shines, which the eyes alone can receive, 
but also see what sounds, see what smells, see 
what tastes, see how hard it is." Ideal vision, 
which S. Augustine calls spiritual, is effected 
through species or figures and images of things 
existing in the imagination itself, which are so 
disposed by the operation of God or of an angel, 
as to represent clearly the object proposed ; light 
being infused from on high for the understanding 
of what they mean : and it is effected also througli 
new species never before received, but sent by 
God or an angel ; and this ideal vision may take 
place during waking or sleeping. 

* In De Spirit. Apparitione, c, 9. 

t Confess, lib. 10, c. 35. 
20 VOL. ill. 


Lastly, intellectual vision is the most clear 
manifestation of divine things, which is perfected 
in the intellect alone without figures and images, 
and it takes place either when the human mind is 
illuminated by the grace of the Holy Ghost, that it 
may understand those things which in the bodily or 
ideal apparition are represented by sensible signs, 
or when the divine mysteries are perceived imme 
diately by the species infused into the intellect by 
God. Again, there is a twofold kind of bodily 
and imaginary preternatural vision, for one pro 
ceeds from God, another from the devil. These 
divisions of vision and apparition are discussed by 
S. Thomas,* by Cardinal de Laursea,t by Cardinal 
Bona,J by Graving by Thyraeus,|| by Matta,1F and 

11. And because Father Baldelli has most co 
piously treated of all these questions in the MS. 
referred to, it seems to us desirable to insert his 
words here : " Not less dangerous and liable to 
illusion are those visions which occur during ecs 
tasies and without them. Nevertheless it is well 
to understand the manner and cause of them, in 
order with certainty and safety to form a true 
judgment concerning true virtue and sanctity. 
We must then understand, as is taught by S. 
Augustine, S. Thomas, S. Isidore, and Diony- 
siusft the Carthusian, that visions are of three 

* 2. 2dse. qu. 174, art. 2. t Opusc. 5, De Oratione. c. 8. 
J De Discret. Spirit, c. 18, n. 20. 2 Lap. Lyd. lib. 2, c. 1. 

II De apparit. Visibili, lib. 1, c. 2. 

IT De Canon, SS. part 3, c. 2. De Visionibus, c. 2. 

tt De Judicio animae, art. 26, p. 238. 


sorts ; bodily, with the e yes of the body, ideal, with 
the imagination and the fancy, and intellectual, 
with the intellect alone. Of the first kind was 
the vision of Moses when he saw the bush on fire 
and not burnt ; and that of Baltassar the king, 
(Dan. iv.,) when he saw the vision of the hand 
writing on the wall. Of the second kind was that 
of S. Peter, when he saw the sheet, (Acts x.,) that 
of S. John in the Apocalypse, (i.,) that of Ezekiel, 
(xxxvii.,) when he saw a plain full of the bones of 
the dead, which stood up on their feet, an exceed 
ing great army ; and that of Isaias, (vi.) when he 
saw God on His throne, and the seraphim and 
the altar from which the live coal was taken to 
cleanse his lips, and many others of other pro 
phets. And according to Dionysius* the Carthu 
sian, the same are generally those in which the 
dead appear to persons in their sleep, and bid 
others to give them burial, and the like, and those 
likewise which, even awake, some see, who are 
usually disordered in mind, as madmen. And if, 
perchance, in similar visions it happens that fu 
ture or other events are seen which could be seen 
naturally and by the natural intervention of 
images, he says that this takes place only by the 
ministry of angels, God thus willing or permitting. 
Lastly, of the third kind was that of S. Paul when 
he saw the divine essence without the intervention 
of images and representations." 

"From the occasional occurrence of these three 
visions beyond the common order of our understand- 

* De cura pro mortuis gerenda. c. 10. 


ing, and their giving us to see the things of God, S. 
Augustine and S. Thomas rightly understand by 
them the three heavens above which S. Paul was 
rapt, and saw God. According to the opinion of 
these holy men, nothing else is to be understood by 
his rapture into the third heaven, but his exaltation 
to the most perfect manner of contemplating God, 
that is, without images and similitudes. And 
although the two last of these visions can be, and 
usually are, derived from the first, as in the his 
tory of Baltassar in Daniel, the bodily vision of 
the hand gave rise to the vision in the imagina 
tion when absent, and further to the mental vision 
of what it signified ; nevertheless the first is not 
usually occasioned by the last. Thus the intel 
lectual vision of God which S. Paul had, did not 
cause an ideal or bodily vision of Him ; nor did 
the ideal vision of the sheet, which S. Peter had, or 
of other things which the other prophets had, cause 
bodily vision of the same." 

"S. Augustine in the same place adds, that these 
three visions have their own order of perfection and 
degree, saying, that the first of the bodily visions has 
need of the second, of the ideal vision, because the 
external senses do not perform their functions with 
out the concurrence of the internal powers. The 
second has need of the third, in order that a cor 
rect judgment may be formed of those things which 
are in the imagination, and apparent. Finally, 
the third, as the most perfect, although it is ordin 
arily always attended by the second, seeing that 
in this life nothing can be perceived without 
images, yet has no need of it, and can of itself 


exist without it, as in the case of S. Paul. S. 
Thomas well observes that these apparitions or 
ideal visions, if they occur during sleep, are called 
dreams, if during waking, but while the subject of 
them is abstracted, visions. In dreams as well 
as visions the soul is occupied with images only, 
whether wholly or in part, and rests in them as if 
they were not images and similitudes of things, but 
the things themselves. And herein a dream or a 
vision differs from prophecy, if perchance that is 
effected by means of symbols and similitudes of 
things ; for the soul of the prophet does not rest in 
the symbols and similitudes, but passes beyond 
them in the prophetic light ; because knowing 
them to be symbols and appearances, it arrives 
at the understanding even of the things signified 
and shadowed by them, as it is written, (Dan. x. 1,) 
A word was revealed to Daniel... and he un 
derstood the word, for there is need of understand 
ing in a vision. " 

" The causes of these visions are those assigned 
to ecstasies, that is, God, the devil, and certain 
bodily dispositions ; for although the third kind is 
distinct from the second, and is pure intelligence 
without the aid of images, and cannot occur in 
this life without being from God, who alone can 
interrupt the connexion and natural order of the 
faculties, nevertheless when it is united with this, 
it may proceed from the same source. There is 
no necessity for further proof that all these kinds 
of visions may proceed from God, there being 
clear instances thereof in the Holy Scriptures. 
Neither is it difficult to believe that not only ideal 


visions, but also bodily visions, may proceed from 
the devil ; for he is able to change the images and 
excite the animal spirits ; neither is he without 
means of making people see erroneously with the 
eyes and external senses, as in fact he does in the 
case of witches and necromancers. And there is 
no doubt that, as some men by means of some 
natural secret impose upon the senses of others, 
and as many conjurors cause one thing to appear 
for another, so, and much more, can the devil, 
either by carrying from a distance many real 
bodies and sensible objects, or by producing them 
through their causes, or by deceiving, by means of 
aerial bodies, the external senses, and thereby 
causing the suspension of the senses, and changing 
the images presented to the internal senses, and 
causing those apparitions which occur in dreams, 
as Cajetan* explains, and those who treat of su 
perstitions. But it may appear difficult to some 
how visions result from bodily causes, if we had, 
in reference to the ideal visions, the experience of 
dreams, which are nothing else but fantastic ap 
paritions, caused, for the most part, by the motion 
and concourse of diverse fantasies, by the vapours 
which cause sleep ; and for the bodily visions the 
experience of maniacs, madmen, and persons suf 
fering from fever, who, owing to their several in 
dispositions, say they see and feel what in fact 
they neither see nor feel." 

Galenf speaks of a certain physician of the name 

* 2. 2dse. qu. 95, art. 2. 
+ De Syptom. differ, lib. 3, c. 3. 


of Theophilus, who had an abscess in his head, im 
mediately behind the brain ; he gave sound advice 
to thoso who consulted him, but he was greatly 
troubled because of some trumpeters, who, he 
said, were in a corner of his room, and deafened 
him with their continual noise, there being no one 
to drive them out of the house : in fact, there 
were no trumpeters there, nor any noise. The 
same Galen* says, that he was once in a high 
fever, and seemed to see on the clothes of his 
friends who visited, straws of a black colour, and 
3eeces of wool ; he stretched out his hand to re 
move them, but grasped nothing, and then per 
ceived that his friends were saying to themselves, 
see how this man is gathering straw and picking 
up fleeces of wool ; upon which he perceived at 
once his danger, and cried out, help me, oh my 
friends, that I may not become delirious. Aris 
totle, in his book on sleep, observes, that very 
often in fevers, from some slight resemblance to 
animals which lines make drawn upon the wall, 
as if there were real animals on the wall ; t and 
sometimes, if the resemblance becomes greater, 
a person stretches forth his hand to them : and 
he remarks, that children when they awake in the 
night and have their eyes open, are disposed to see 
many things whereby they are not only made 
afraid, but through fear, cover themselves, and 
hide themselves beneath the clothes. " 

" Cardanf says of himself, that he could not see 

* De locis male affectis. lib. 4, c. 1. 
+ De Ver. lib. 8, c. 43. 


what he pleased, cum volo, video qua volo. One 
person of great credit has frequently, and in the 
presence of many, said, that once having an 
affection of the heart, she remained awake in the 
dark, and felt at her heart a motion of vapours, 
which perhaps were the cause of the disease, and 
a little after, heard voices so clearly and dis 
tinctly, as it were a concert, that she would 
have maintained it to be real if she had not 
been most certain that she was alone, and in a 
room far from musicians. I know of another, who, 
being in bed, and under the influence of an infu 
sion of henbane, saw on the wall most beautiful birds 
of many colours, and the apparition was so strong 
that he stretched out his hand to lay hold of them. 
But of these delusive visions, which appear in the 
exterior imagination, or even bodily to the eyes, 
no better account can be given than that which 
S. Augustine gives, and Aristotle, in his book on 
sleep : that in the very organ of sense there occur 
various changes with respect to an object and its 
accidents, and because of these, the judgment 
which gives power is imperfect and defective, 
and is not corrected by any power above it, and 
more true. And with regard to the first cause, 
we cannot doubt, that not only the changes and 
the accidents of the object, but even those 
of the faculties and of the organ, are sufficient to 
produce diversity in the understanding. Thus 
the shore and the mountains appear to him who 
is on the sea to move, because the sight moves, 
and he who presses the pupil of his eye, sees 
everything double ; and if two fingers of the 


same hand be placed one over the other every 
object which they touch will seem double, and 
would be so considered if the eyesight in that 
case, more correct than the touch, did not cor 
rect the error." 

"With respect to the second, it is certain 
that the objects of a dream appear to be real 
and true, because they come represented as real 
and true ; and one does not observe to which 
power they are represented, and whether the 
external senses to which judgment in the first 
instance belongs, be free and at liberty to exert 
themselves, or are bound up and impeded by 
sleep. However, being represented to the imagi 
nation alone, or to the general sense, as if they 
were represented at the same time to the external 
senses, thus are they judged of by it alone, and 
believed, as if they had been judged of at the 
same time by the other senses ; nor is this 
error perceived and corrected by another supreme 
power. And, perhaps, we may refer to this second 
cause, that which was experienced by Cardan, 
when he saw at will what he willed to see, see 
ing that he was able by the strength of his 
imagination vigorously to apply himself to every 
object, without perceiving that his senses were 
also at the same time occupied with the same, and 
that he, in a manner, dreamt even while he was 
awake. To this first, too, we may refer his case, 
who, after taking the henbane saw the beautiful 
birds on the wall, and his, who in the fever, saw 
animals ; seeing that the vapours of which the 
pupil of the eye is full, could so determine the 


appearances of the lines or other marks on the 
wall, so that if the eye had any colour, it would 
determine thereby the appearance of every other 
object. Arid therefore, Aristotle said that the in 
tellect, to understand everything, ought to be 
pure, because, what is alien to it, appearing near 
it, impedes and obstructs it, so, if the eye is dis 
ordered by vapours and receives the species dis 
orderly, it can easily determine them to a diffe 
rent form." 

"By these principles Avicenua, and with him 
other physicians, and Averroes, explain the 
strange appearances which present themselves to 
melancholy persons, when the cold and dry 
humours of their constitution predominate over 
the rest, so as to lay the foundations of that 
infirmity, which, taking its name from those 
humours, is by every one called melancholy. 
Through the malignity of this humour, the animal 
spirits, and the ventricles of the brain, wherein 
reside the imaginary species and fantasms, be 
come of a substance so opaque and dark, and in 
a certain way, losing the fineness and thinness 
of their aerial constitution, which is naturally 
theirs, become, as it were, savage. And hence it 
comes to pass, that even the images and species 
which remain in them become corrupted, and re 
present objects, not as they are, but dreadful and 
horrible, and always give rise to fear and dread. 
So, on the other hand, if the spirits and the 
blood be clear and subtile, the fantasms and the 
species are also clear, and represent the objects 
naturally, causing joy. And that which would 


occur in the case of the pupil and the eye, if it had 
colour, as he says, it would make every object of 
the same colour ; the same occurs in the spirits 
and ventricles of the brain, which, according to 
their clearness and subtility, or their darkness 
and grossness, make, in like manner, the objects 
appear to the interior senses clear and light, or 
even obscure and fearful. To one and the other 
of these causes together may be referred the 
experience of the physician Theophilus, of the 
delirious, of madmen, of children, when in the 
night they awake, and are afraid, of him who 
heard music, and others of the same kind." 

" S. Augustine," indeed, reduces this to the 
disturbance and derangement of the senses only, 
not because these visions and sensations are 
really physical, and in the eye or the sense seeing 
that from without there is no object which can 
move the external organ but because they are 
imaginary, and through some physical disposition, 
which exists in the organ of imagination, one 
phantasm is excited sooner than another ; or this 
very one, through the same disposition, is changed, 
and differently represented, not allowing the other 
faculties to give a truer judgment. Aristotle, in 
the place referred to, reduces to the same prin 
ciple, how that as every one is differently disposed 
by the passions of his soul, so is he liable to be 
more easily deceived in his senses, and deluded, 
so to say, in their objects. In this way, he says, 
he who fears, in every shadow that he sees, sees 

*De Cura pro Mort. e. 12, 


an enemy ; he who loves, the object of his love, 
because it is moved by whatever likeness, although 
slight, in conformity with its dispositions and 
affections ; thus, in fevers, the eye is moved by 
the disposition of the vapours, also by the few 
lines on the wall, to see animals ; and the other 
faculties do not correct the error, because the 
whole soul is absorbed by the vehemence of this 
passion and affection. Whence it is not to be 
wondered at, if even when awake men trust their 
imagination, as they do in sleep." 

" And from hence S. Augustine concludes, that 
neither the first kind of bodily visions, nor the 
second, of the imagination, can be certain and free 
from error, if the former be not confirmed by the 
testimony of the other senses, and the latter not 
examined by the intellect. This Aristotle had not 
passed over in silence, when he said that the 
reason of similar deceptions is, because they are 
not judged of by that faculty which is chief, as 
the superior, and true, but only by that in which 
fantasms and apparitions take place. To these 
physical causes ought to be referred also the 
humours of our body, which have a determinate re 
lation with certain fantasms, and the mental dis 
positions of the elements caused by the heavenly 
bodies, which have a relation to our humours, as 
it appears from dreams, which in a great measure 
are occasioned by these humours, and the atmos 
phere, according to S. Thomas.* And therefore 
we may lawfully therefrom conjecture, and fore- 

* 2. 2dse. qu, 95, art, 6. 


tel the effects which can result from these same 
humours, and from the disposition of the elements, 
such as diseases, rain, fine weather, and the like." 
" These very movements which our humours and 
the heavenly bodies cause in us while we sleep, 
they cause too, according to Ficinus, continually, 
and while we are waking ; but because we are 
abstracted by other matters, we perceive them 
not. In the same way precisely as when a man 
occupies himself with his whole thoughts upon one 
subject, he neither hears nor sees what passes 
around him. And, generally, the changes are not 
perceived which are continually taking place in 
our bodies under the influence of the heavenly 
bodies, so far as the failing or increase of humours. 
And they are more easily perceived during sleep, 
because then the mind is released from other 
cares. Although in many who are exclusively 
given to pleasure, or gluttony, or to cares of state, 
or study and contemplation, other fantasms are 
not wanting, which oppress the soul, and leave it 
not at liberty to consider the motions of the 
heavens, for which rest and repose from other 
sources of distraction are particularly necessary. 
Not only cannot the heavenly motions be per 
ceived, but not even those of God, if the soul is not 
at rest. Hence the visions of the saints, which for 
the most part they received from Him, either in 
an ecstasy, or in sleep, or in a state of repose 
from every other occupation. And there is no 
doubt that from all we have been saying about 
the causes of visions, that it is clearly seen how 
difficult it is to decide, and to definitely determine 


whether they are from God, or from the devil, or 
from natural and material causes which are in 
ourselves, or without us ; also at the same time 
what great care we ought to take in the examina 
tion, not to fall into error in a matter of such 
grave importance." 

" There are some more disposed to these than 
others, by reason of their natural constitution, 
such as women, according to Albertus Magnus, in 
his commentaries on the cited work of Aristo 
tle, who, by reason of their great humidity receive 
every impression : such are melancholy persons, 
according to Ficinus, who, by reason of their dry- 
ness, do not distract themselves with many 
objects, and vividly retain the impressions they 
receive, and such are all those who have strong 
passions and affections, according to Aristotle in 
his treatise on sleep. And herein, beside the 
natural power of the imagination to arrange and 
combine together diverse fantasms, whether acci 
dentally, as in dreams, or upon slight occasions, as 
in times of disturbance and passion, the devil can 
easily intrude himself, who skilfully avails him- 
self of our natural condition against ourselves, or 
even a good angel, God so willing or permitting." 

" And in this way, according to S. Augustine, by 
the operation of angels does it usually happen 
that one who is dead says where his body is, and 
where he wishes to be buried. He then adds, 
that is granted and permitted by God for good, 
that is, either for the consolation of the living; to 
whom the dead who appear belong, or for main 
taining among mankind the pious office of bury- 


ing the dead. And in the place referred to, he 
says that when he was at Milan, a young man, 
being the testamentary heir of his father, was 
compelled to pay again what had been already 
paid by his father ; and that in a dream he saw 
his father, who informed him of the writings in 
proof of the payment of the debt. And about the 
same time Eulogius, at Carthage, professor of rhe 
toric, and formerly a pupil of S. Augustine, had a 
vision of the saint, who explained to him an ob 
scure passage in Cicero about which he was then 
perplexed, as Eulogius himself relates. And in the 
same place he says that there was near Hippo a 
countryman of the name of Curma lying ill, who 
for many days appeared as dead, giving no other 
sign of life than a slight respiration, if a man held 
his hand for a time over his mouth ; at last, as if 
awaking from a deep and long sleep, he said, Go 
to the house of Curma the smith, and see what 
occurs there, for I in his stead have been taken 
to the places of the dead, and now that the error 
is discovered I am sent back, and he is sent for. 
And in truth it was ascertained that when Curma 
the smith was dead, the other Curma returned to 
himself. He added, too, that he saw in that place, 
which he called the place of the dead, many 
others whom he named : that a priest there 
warned him to procure himself to be baptized in 
Hippo by the hands of S. Augustine, and, finally, 
that he was led into Paradise, but was told that 
he could not remain there, because he had not yet 
been baptized. But, because among these things, 
which this man says he saw, some were true and 


some were false, S. Augustine maintains abso 
lutely that the whole resulted from fantasms and 
images, occasioned by his malady, and that added 
thereto was the work of an angel, good or bad, by 
the will of God, for those portions of truth which 
could not be guessed at naturally." 

" Finally, in the same way S. Augustine explains 
how a certain monk of the name of John, in the 
times of Theodosius the Great, sent word to a lady 
who greatly desired to see him, that she should see 
him the following night, but in a dream. And 
she indeed saw him, and he gave her suitable evi 
dence of it. And although S. Augustine there 
denies not that he might, by the power of God, 
have really appeared in body and soul, neverthe 
less, he clearly indicates that the whole apparition 
was by fantasms and images, moved and caused 
in the senses and mind of the lady by an angel, 
without any further knowledge on the part of the 
monk, and only by the gift of prophecy which he 
had, had he foretold what must happen, not with 
his own personal presence and act, but only with 
his imaginary presence and the intervention of 
an angel. 



1. WE begin with visions and apparitions, which 
in a certain sense may be said to be natural, as 
proceeding from natural causes, as we have seen 


in the preceding chapter. Moreover, in order to 
ascertain whether the vision and apparition in 
question were natural, we must diligently enquire 
whether they were preceded by any natural causes, 
from which they might have proceeded. To sick 
and delirious persons, to those who are afflicted 
with melancholy, to those who are disturbed by 
vehement thoughts and affections, it may easily 
happen that they think they see what does not 
exist, and that certain objects appear which do 
not, and which they usually speak of as things 
seen by them, and revealed to them from heaven. 
Bartholomew Medina, * on Thomas, gives this 
rule in these words : " The physical temperament 
must also be taken into account, health and occu, 
pation ; for many sick and delirious persons, 
through excessive strain of the mind, wander, and 
think they see and hear sometimes what they 
never could have heard or seen. We must inquire 
also into the prevailing inclination of his mind, 
and whether he was greatly under the influence of 
love or hatred. We must inquire carefully whe 
ther he who has visions is subject to melancholy, 
or wasted away ; for they who are afflicted with 
the jaundice, with old age, and who are wasted 
away, are very often deluded. And hence it is 
that old men, when decrepid, become foolish. 

Philamarini.t on divine revelations, thus speaks : 
" Such effects may proceed, not only from mental 
perturbation, but also from bodily indisposition. 

* 3 part. qu. 25, art. 3. 
+ Tr. 1. c. 2, n. 4, p. 34. 

21 VOL. III. 


For if the bile be exceedingly abundant, if the 
body be reduced by abstinence and want of sleep, 
if the brain be injured, or the organ of the imagi 
nation be deranged, it might happen that even, 
while awake men may say that they see, hear, 
and taste, what they can neither see, nor hear, nor 
taste." Cardinal Bona* speaks to the same effect : 
" The physical system upon which, in general, the 
state of the mind depends, must be considered. 
For they are easily deceived who have but weak 
health, whose imagination is disturbed and vehe 
ment, who suffer from bile, which usually disorders 
the fancy, and impresses various images on the 
disturbed senses ; so that while they are awake 
they may seem to dream, and think that they 
see and hear what they cannot see nor hear. 
Long abstinence, frequent fasts, immoderate vigils, 
the dryness of the brain, and the dispersion of 
the animal spirits, cause many fantasms to appear, 
to which the deluded soul obstinately clings, as 
if they were divine revelations. 

The same author adds, that age must also be 
considered, for old men, their strength being ex 
hausted, frequently dote ; and children, whose 
brain is more moist, are easily moved, and receive 
false impressions instead of the true. Sex, too, is 
to be regarded, for women are naturally of a more 
moist constitution, and by reason of the vehe 
mence of their thoughts and affections, think they 
see what they desire ; and what results from their 
perturbation of mind, which in them is most vio- 

* De Discret. Spirit, c. 20, n. 23. 


lent, they believe to proceed from truth : as it 
is observed bj Valgoner,* Medina,! Cardinal 
Bona,J Martin del Rio.g and Arauxo,|| and also 
by Father Antony of the Annunciation, 1F "who, 
embracing all these considerations, discusses the 
subject at great length. We have spoken of 
this, not because we think all visions and appari 
tions which women say they have experienced 
ought to be accounted natural for we know that 
many such, and those beyond the powers of na 
ture, were granted to S. Bridget, to S. Catherine 
of Sienna, S. Teresa, S. Mary Magdalene di 
Pazzi, S. Rose of Peru, S. Catherine de Ricci, 
and the Blessed Angela de Foliguo, so that 
Matteucci"*"* rightly observes, " Visions and ap 
paritions are not to be rejected because they 
happen to women ;" with whom agrees Tannerft 
in his examination of the prudence which Lewis 
i Ponte showed while investigating the revela 
tions of Marina de Escobar but in order to pro 
mote a more careful investigation, for the reasons 
pointed out, when visions and apparitions which 
happen to women are in question. 

The example of S. Monica is well known. This 
most religious woman wished to withdraw her son 

* Theolog. Mystic, qu. 3, disp. 5, art. 6, n. 3. 
t 3, part. D. Thorn, qu. 25, art. 3. 22 10, Regula. 

t De Discret. Spirit, c. 20, n. 4. 

? Disquis. Magic, lib. 4, c. 2, qu. 3, 22 3. 

|| Decia. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23, 5 2, n. 30, 31. 

51 Discept. Mystic, de Oratione, tr. 4, q. 2, art. 5. 

Tract. Theolo. Canon .tit. 3, o. 3, art. 3. \\ 2, n. 33. 

ft Tr. 1, c. 7, n. 8. 


Augustine from the mire of lust, and thinking of 
his future marriage, desired that some sign might 
be given her. S. Augustine* thus writes of her : 
"And she saw some vain and fantastic visions, 
whither the violence of her mind, busy upon this, 
hurried her, and related them to me," and although 
he says "not confidently as usual, when Thou," 
he is speaking of God " didst show things to 
her, but despising them ;" this, however, she did 
because she was gifted with the grace of discern 
ment, and knew what difference there was between 
a revelation from God and the dreams of men, 
which is not indeed granted to all. 

2. Before we quit the subject of visions and 
apparitions which proceed from natural causes, 
though it is certain that dreams are sometimes 
sent by God for God warned Abimelech, kmg of 
Gerar, in a dream, not to touch the wife of Abra 
ham. Jacob in a dream saw the mystical ladder, 
and the angels ascending and descending ; God 
appeared in a dream to Laban, and bade him not 
to deal harshly with Jacob, as we read in Genesis ; 
and there are other examples in the Old and New 
Testament, and referred to by Durant in his Trea 
tise on Visions yet there are many dreams seem 
ingly from God, but really proceeding from na 
tural causes, as Vallesiust explains ; " We are fre 
quently admonished in dreams what we should 
do. For oftentimes the thought that was begun 
by day is continued in sleep, and those means 

* Confess, lib. 6, c. 13, col. 130. 
1 De Sacr. Philosoph. c. 30, p. 249. 


most suitable for the end in view are dis 
covered, and which on waking we are pleased 
with, and put into execution, thinking that we 
have been advised by God what we should do : 
the cause of this is natural. For both of these, 
namely, consultation and the sense of minute 
passions, is keener when we sleep than when we 
are awake, provided our sleep be tranquil, and 
undisturbed by thick vapours." 

According to S. Thomas* the cause of sleep is 
twofold ; internal and external. The internal is 
again twofold ; one of the soul, when a man s 
imagination in dreams occupies itself with those 
things about which his waking thoughts and de 
sires were usually employed ; another of the body, 
when by reason of the interior condition of the 
body, a movement corresponding with it takes 
place in the imagination. The external also is 
twofold, namely, bodily and spiritual ; bodily from 
the surrounding air, or the impression of a celes 
tial body ; and the spiritual from God or from the 
devil, who can change the imagination of the 
sleeper, which no one doubts ; as Gravinat ob 
serves, and Philamarinij: at some length, with 
whom agrees Hurtado, who says "that S. Thomas 
derived his principles from the writing of S. Gre 
gory, S. Isidore, and S. Gregory Nyssen. 

Hence, if the question should arise concerning 

* 2. 2da;. qu, 95, art. 6. 
t Lap. Lyd. lib. 2, c. 6, Diffic. 2. 
t Tr. 1, de Divinis Revel, c. 1. 
Tract. Var. Tom. 1, tr. 5, c. 6, Resol. 56, n. 1155. 


a vision, apparition, or revelation, alleged to have 
taken place during sleep ; we must not neglect 
carefully to inquire into those natural causes from 
which dreams proceed, in addition to those things 
which we shall treat of below, when speaking of 
divine and diabolical dreams. Great caution must 
be had in the matter of dreams, according to the 
commentator on Climacus,* who says : " Great 
prudence must be shown in dealing with those 
things which are usual in sleep, and rather to be 
set aside altogether, because they are uncertain ; 
for they are few who can discriminate between, 
them. And as the greatest portion is fortuitous 
and accidental, owing to the varied and disorderly 
movements of the animal spirits, and of the sensi 
ble species, through the recesses of the brain, the 
holy Scriptures rightly bid us to heed them not : 
as it is written in Levit. xix. 26 : " You shall not 
divine and observe dreams," and in Jerem. xxix. 
8: "Give no heed to your dreams which you 
dream," and in Ecclesiast. v. 6 : " Where there 
are many dreams, there are many vanities." 
Finally, divine dreams announcing future events 
are most rare, for they are not sent but for some 
great cause which concerns the public welfare, as 
Cardinal Bonaf observes. 

Gaspar a, RejesJ treats the subject of dreams 
at great length, and explains the quality of 
natural dreams, which proceed from an exter 
nal cause. He says that the surrounding at- 

* Grad. 15, n. 39. t De Discret. Spirit, c. 16, n. 4. 

J Jucund. Qusest. Elys. Campo, qu. 37. 


mosphere cannot, of itself, in any way move or 
administer species by which the fancy may be 
brought to perceive anything, but only by dis 
posing itself so as to obstruct the pores or at 
tenuate the humours, so that they shall rush to 
the head. And with respect to the influence of 
the celestial bodies, he does not admit that it can 
help to produce dreams, otherwise than by chang 
ing and disposing the humours ; indeed, he consi 
ders it to be impossible for the celestial influences 
to impress new forms of species on the fancy, if 
the exterior senses have not first admitted them. 

In Alexander at Alexandro* we have many in 
stances of dreams which have proved true, and in 
Cardant and Quercetanus.J Hippocrates^ and 
Galen, in his book on prognostication from 
dreams, say that from dreams the humours and 
diseases may be ascertained. But with respect to 
dreams which are fulfilled afterwards, this is, for 
the most part, to be attributed to chance, as 
Fracastorius|| observes, " Who is there," says 
Cicero,^ " who, having thrown the dart for a whole 
day, does not take aim also in his sleep some 
times?" And other dreams, which physicians 
observe, can indicate only the dispositions of 
the body, as Gaspar a Rejes speaks, and also 

3. We now come to preternatural visions and 

* Dier. Genial, c. 11, lib. 3, c. 26. 
t De insomn. lib, 4. J Disetet. c. 20. 

1. Epid. com. 3, text. 1, com. 2. de humoribus. 

I D. intellect, lib, 2. f De Divin. 2, c. M. 

** Qusest. Medicolegal, lib. 4, tit. 1, n. 34, 


apparitions, some of which are from God, some 
from the devil ; some occur in sleep, and some 
while men are waking. S. Antiochus "- relates an 
awful instance of a diabolical vision : " There was 
in Mount Sina a certain monk who was a re 
markable example of self-denial, and lived in his 
cell for many years. Deluded at last by many 
revelations of the devil and dreams, he fell into 
Judaism, and was circumcised. When the devil 
had from time to time given him true dreams, 
and having, as it were, changed and ensnared his 
beclouded mind, he showed him at last the multi 
tude of apostles, martyrs, and other Christians of 
all conditions, in the thickest darkness, and filled 
with all shame. On the other hand he showed 
Moses and the prophets, and the Jewish people 
hated of God surrounded with light, and living 
in joy and felicity. When the wretched man saw 
this, he rose immediately, and abandoned the holy 
mount, and went to Palestine. He proceeded 
straight to Noara, and Libyas, a refuge of the 
Jews. When he had related to them his diabo 
lical visions, he was circumcised, professed Juda 
ism, and was married, and before all declaimed 
against the Christians, maintaining the Jewish 
superstitions. I myself and many monks have 
seen him ; and it is scarcely four years since his 
miserable death." 

Doctors give many signs whereby we may dis 
tinguish between diabolical and divine visions. 
Gersonf thus writes : " This is the principal and 

* Horn. 84, Bibl. PP. Tom. 12. n. 265. 
+ De Distinct. Ver. Vis. a fals. si^n. 4. Tom. 1. col. 53. 


chief test among the tests of our spiritual coin. 
All interior warnings, all strong impressions, all 
revelation, all miracles, all ecstatic love, all con 
templation, all rapture, and lastly, all interior and 
exterior workings, if preceded, attended, and 
followed by humility, if mixed up with nothing 
destructive of it, have with them a sign that they 
come from God or a good angel ; nor can you be 
deceived." With him agrees Tanner,* who, in 
speaking of the visions of women, writes thus : 
" Even female pretence cannot be long concealed ; 
for where there is no foundation laid of the most 
profound humility, whatever is built thereon will 
quickly fall, and not without bringing disgrace ; 
but where there is genuine humility, especially 
necessary in all who cling to God alone with a 
pure, simple, and most chaste affection, of what 
ever sex they may be, they are neither deceived 
nor can deceive." In the dialogues of S. Cathe 
rine of Siennat we thus read: " This is necessary, 
that in my visions my soul be more and more 
humbled." And again, " The truth always makes 
the soul humble, delusion proud." And Cardinal 
Bona : j " There is no greater proof of true visions 
than humility." 

The saying of Don Alonzo, Bishop of Jaen, 
in the letter of a solitary to Kings, rests on 
truth : " The test by which visions of a good 
spirit are discerned from those of an evil spirit, 

* Cit. Tract, c, 7, n. 4. t c. 71. 

J Discret. Spirit, c. 18, t 5. 
? Revel. S. Brigit, c. 6, Tom. 2, p. 272. 


is the fruit and the good works which result 
from those visions or revelations ; for, as it is 
written in the Gospel, An evil tree cannot pro 
duce good fruit," and "By their fruit je shall 
know them." Therefore, when we see that in 
these visions or revelations the mind is illumi 
nated, wicked men are converted to a good and 
devout life, from evil to good, and this in many 
persons, and perseveres long, then it is a most 
certain sign that such visions and revelations 
which have sent forth and produced such fruit, 
have come rather from the Holy Spirit, and not 
from the devil, who cannot do such things, yea, 
things wholly at variance with this result from his 
visions, or rather illusions. These have usually 
caused man to err from the Catholic Faith and 
good morals." 

Others insist upon this, and therefore teach that 
divine visions and apparitions are to be ascer 
tained from the person to whom, and the manner 
in which they happen, and from the effects which 
follow them. For if the person to whom they 
have happened be virtuous, if there be nothing in 
the vision or apparition which may turn people 
away from God ; moreover, if all things be di 
rected towards the service of God, if, after visions 
and apparitions, humility, obedience, and other 
Christian virtues not only persevere, but grow to a 
greater height in that person to whom the visions 
and apparitions have been granted, no doubt can 
be made as to their supernatural and divine 
character. Wherefore S. Gregory* says, "But 

* Dialog, lib. 1, c. 1, col. 156. 


the mind which is filled with the Holy Spirit, has 
most clearly its own tests, namely, virtues and 
humility, of which, if they both perfectly meet 
together in one mind, it is clear that they testify 
to the presence of the Holy Ghost." And S. Ma- 
carius* of Egypt adds : " The soul which truly 
loves God and Christ, though it may have wrought 
innumerable works of justice, and have deserved 
to attain to the various gifts of the Spirit, or reve 
lations and heavenly mysteries, on account of its 
immense and insatiable love of God, so conducts 
itself as if it had attained to nothing." 

Besides, they will have it the apparitions of 
angels and devils differ in forms. An angel has 
but one, the human ; the devil many, either as 
men or beasts. He never appears as a dove or a 
lamb, because these mystically denote the Holy 
Ghost and Christ, and because these animals 
having no gall, are uusuited for the malicious 
ness of the devil. With respect to the human 
form, if the devil assumes it, it is for the most 
part black, deformed, maimed, unusual, and 
such as shows that the evil spirit lurks beneath 
it. The form of a brute or a monster is adapted 
only for the devil ; for the souls of the dead, 
although of the damned, when, by the permis 
sion of God they appear to the living, assume 
that form by which they are known. 

Lactantiust thus writes of the evil spirits : 
" These corrupt and lost spirits wander over the 
whole earth, and derive consolation for themselves 

* Horn. 10, Bibl. PP. Tom. 4, p. 115. t Lib. 2, c. 15. 


in working the ruin of men. Therefore they fill 
every place with treachery, fraud, guile, and delu 
sion :" so that they, God permitting it, transform 
themselves sometimes into an angel of light, and 
have frequently dared to assume the form of Christ 
our Lord, the most Blessed Virgin and the saints, 
as Villalpandi* shows at length, and Raynaud,t 
Scotus,J and Cardinal Bona. They do this with 
so much skill and cunning as to lead, not once 
only, men of tried virtue into error : and it 
is worthy of remark, that in their visions and 
apparitions they have at times recommended that 
which is good, in order to hinder a greater good, 
and have encouraged persons to do a particular 
act of virtue, that they may the more easily 
deceive the unwary, and in the course of time 
lead them by degrees to commit most horrible 
sins. To avoid this it is necessary to have 
recourse to prayer, to the direction of prudent 
men, skilful in discerning spirits, as we shall speak 

Thyra3us,|| speaking of the sacramental appear 
ance of Christ under strange species, says, " It is 
clear that the devil may be the author of these 
appearances. Certainly Alexander of Hales and 
Gabriel Biel, believe these may be wrought by 
the power of the devil, in which the flesh and 
blood once seen became corrupted in the course 

* Jure spirit, practice, lib. 1, c. 2, n. 34. 

+ De apparit in Euch. qu. 9. 

: Physic. Curios, lib. 2, c, 34, ?. 1. 

i D Discret. spirit, c. 19, n. 7 

li C. 22, n. 10. 


of time." And again, " We, indeed, would not 
easily deny that it is so ; for if the devils, where 
the Sacrament was not, have at times assumed 
the appearance of Christ ; what prevents their 
doing the same where the Sacrament is ?" 

In the Bollandists* we have the Life of Mary of 
Oignies, written by James of Vitry ; it is therein 
said that the devil transformed himself into an 
angel of light, and under the guise of devotion 
persuaded a certain man in his apparitions to 
abstain from certain vices and do certain good 
works, in the hope of leading him afterwards to 
other evils which he was plotting. Mary said 
that those apparitions were illusions of the devil, 
and when the man answered that it could not be 
so, for he who appeared to him had advised him 
to do many good things. Mary betakes herself 
to her usual arms of prayer, washes with her tears 
the feet of our Lord, knocks instantly at the gate 
of heaven with prayers ; nor does she desist till 
that deceiver, with much groaning and shame, 
stood before her in her cell when she was at 
prayer. She saw him shine with a false splen 
dour, and said to him, " Who art thou ? and what 
is thy name?" He indeed, with a proud look, 
and sternly regarding her, said, "I am he, whom 
thou, cursed one, hast, by thy prayers, compelled 
to come to thee, for thou takest my friend by 
violence from me." S. Bonaventuref saith, "It 
ought not to be passed over in silence that some 

* Act. SS. Jun. 23, lib. 1, c. 3, n. 30. 
t De Prof. Relig. lib. 2, c. 75, Tom. 7, p. 648. 


persons, deceived by seducing spirits, or their own 
false opinions, think that Christ Himself and His 
most glorious Mother appear in visions to them." 

S. James the apostle writes of the Divine Wis 
dom, iii. 17, "But the wisdom that is from above, 
first, indeed, is chaste, then peaceable, modest, 
easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full 
of mercy and good fruits ;" and doctors, explain 
ing the subject, say that though sometimes divine 
visions and apparitions at first cause fear and dis 
tress, yet afterwards they are pleasant, agreeable, 
delightful, and bring peace to the soul ; that, on 
the other hand, the diabolical visions, if at first 
they disturb, they continue to do so, or in the 
beginning they are pleasant and alluring, during 
their progress they always disturb, and leave him 
who sees them disturbed. Hence in Genes, XY. 
12. we read of Abraham, " When the sun was 
setting, a deep sleep fell upon. Abraham, and a 
great and a darksome horror seized upon him," 
but when God had foretold his prosperity, he 
became tranquil. Likewise, Genes, xxviii, when 
Jacob in his sleep saw a ladder standing on the 
earth, and the top thereof touching heaven, and 
angels ascending and descending by it, and the 
Lord leaning upon the ladder, he was afraid, and 
said, "How terrible is this place!" but having 
heard the words of divine consolation, he set up 
a stone for a title, and made a vow to the Lord. 

Zachary the priest, as we read in Luke i. 7, when 
he saw the angel by the altar of the temple, " was 
troubled, and fear fell upon him." The Blessed 
Virgin Mary at the salutation of the angel " was 


troubled at his saying, and thought with herself 
what manner of salutation this should be." Of 
the shepherds we read, that "An angel of the 
Lord stood bj them, and the brightness of God 
shone round about them, and they feared with 
a great fear." But these fears vanished at once 
when the angel said to Zachary, "Fear not, 
Zachary, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife 
Elizabeth shall bear thee a son ;" and when 
Gabriel said to Mary, " Fear not, Mary, for thou 
hast found grace with God ;". and when the angel 
said to the shepherds ; " Fear not, for behold I 
bring you tidings of great joy ;" and again, 
" And suddenly there was with the angel a multi 
tude of the heavenly army, praising God, and 
saying, * Glory to God in the highest, and on 
earth peace to men of good will." 

4. This is confirmed by what we read in the 
Life of S. Antony the abbot, written by S. Athan- 
asius,* where he thus speaks of the apparition of 
angels : " Their goodness is such, that if any one, 
by reason of the frailty of his nature, were terri 
fied by their brightness, they immediately banish 
all fear from his heart. Thus did Gabriel, when 
he spoke to Zachary in the temple, and the an 
gels, when they announced to the shepherds the 
divine birth of the Virgin, and they who kept watch 
over the body of our Lord, showing themselves 
to the same beholders, bade them not be afraid ; 
for fear results not so much from timidity of mind, 
as from the sight of great things." And again, 

* Tom. 1, n. 35, p. 823, 


" If therefore after fear joy shall succeed to the 
horror that was felt, and confidence in God, and 
unutterable charity, let us know that help has 
been given us ; for security of soul is a proof of 
present majesty." 

S. Thomas* teaches the same saying, that per 
turbation results not only in the case of bodily 
visions, but also in ideal visions, for man is 
raised above himself, and his lower nature is 
made weaker ; and with respect to the fear felt 
by the most Blessed Virgin, and her subsequent 
consolation by the angel, and considering also the 
case of S. Antony, he subjoins : " And therefore, 
as we read in the Life of S. Antony, it is not 
difficult to discriminate between the blessed and 
evil spirits ; for if joy succeeds to fear, we know 
that help has come from our Lord, for security of 
soul is a proof of present majesty. But if the 
terror continues, it is the enemy who appears." 
This he speaks of at length in his commentaries 
on the second Epistle to the Corinthians,! and on 
Job.| He is followed by Martin del Rio, and by 
Villalpandi,|| who thus writes : " Therefore, divine 
apparitions and revelations, though at first they 
strike terror, yet afterwards become gentle and 
sweet ; from which, even alone, we may believe 
them to be a divine revelation, for when consola 
tion results to the interior soul, it cannot have 
come from the devil. Therefore, after his appari 
tions, however speciously he may show himself, 

* apart, qu, 30, art. 3. t C. 11. 

t C. 4, lect. - ]. Disquis. Magic, lib, 2, qu. 26, ?J 3, p. 234. 

i! Jure Spiritual, practic. lib, 1, c. 4, n. 74. 


horror, and not consolation, is the usual result." 

In the dialogues* of S. Catherine of Sienna, we 
read thus : " If thou askest of Me how it may be 
known, whether it comes from the devil rather 
than from Me ; I answer, the sign is this ; that if 
it be from the devil, that he is come to visit thee 
in the form of light, as it is said, the soul receives 
at once, when he comes, a certain pleasure, but 
the longer he remains, the more is this pleasure 
lost, weariness and darkness remain, and pain 
is in the mind, obscuring it within. But if in 
truth it be visited by Me, the eternal truth, the 
soul receives at first a holy fear, and with this 
fear cheerfulness and security, with a sweet pru 
dence, which, not doubting, doubts not. And 
then it goes out on the road of prayer, and My vis 
itation is with cheerfulness and gladness of mind. 
Now this is the sign, whether the soul is visited 
by Me or the devil ; when it is visited by Me, there 
is fear at first, and afterwards, and at the end 
cheerfulness, and a hunger after virtue ; and when 
the devil comes, at first there is cheerfulness, and 
afterwards there remains confusion and mental 

Gravinaf observes that sadness may sometimes 
remain with divine apparitions, understanding by 
it that sadness which leads to penance, and 
creates an afflicted spirit, but pleasing to God, 
and that a certain joy may remain even with 
diabolical visions, but without the ardent desire 

* C. 71. + Lap. Lyd. lib. 3, c. 7. 

22 VOL. ill. 


of virtue, and especially of humility. The 
rest, about considering the persons, the man 
ner, and the effects, mentioned already, is gene 
rally taught by the doctors ; by Durant,* by 
Medina,! in his commentaries on S. Thomas, by 
Rosignoli,! by Cardinal Bona, by Cardinal de 
Laursea,|| by Father Antony of the Annunciation, 1[ 
by Tanner,** by Philamarini,tt by Mattaeucci.Jt 
by Father Passerini,^ in his commentaries on S. 
Thomas, where he says in a few words : " In 
order to ascertain whether they come from God, 
we must consider the person who sees, the manner 
of the apparition, the issues of it, and other 
matters of this kind," and by the Auditors of the 
Rota, in their Report in the cause of S. Francesca 

5. Other matters relating to the subject before 
us we shall discuss below, when we treat of visions 
and apparitions as they regard the causes of beati 
fication and canonization, and also when we shall 
treat of revelations. Meanwhile it will be enough 
to speak, in passing, of visions and apparitions 
which occur in dreams, which dreams may come 

* Tr. De Visionibus. c. II. + 3 part. qu. 25. art. 3. 

t Discipl. Christian. Perfect, lib. 3, c. 20. 

Discret. Spirit, c. 19, n. 7, 9, 10. 

II Opusc. 5. de Oratione. c. 7. 

f Discept. Mystic, tr. 3, qu. 2, art. 5, n. 30. 

** Loc. cit. c. 3, tr. 1. -ft Tr. 1. De Divin. Revel, c. 2, 3. 

U Tract. Theologo-Canon. tit. 3, c. 3, art. 2, it 2, n. 23. 

13 3 part, qu, 76, art. 8, c. 1, n. 5. 


from God or from the devil : of the way of dis 
tinguishing in visions and apparitions which are 
above nature, which is divine, and which is purely 
angelic, and then as often as a spirit appears 
representing Christ or the Blessed Virgin, or 
any of the saints, whether it be lawful to adore 
or venerate him. 

6. We have already alleged some instances of 
divine dreams ; others might easily be added, for 
in Genes, xxxvii. Joseph, the son of Jacob, had 
two visions in his sleep, which, being told to his 
brethren, were the cause of his being persecuted 
and sold. He saw himself with his brethren bind 
ing sheaves in the field, his own sheaf stood, and the 
sheaves of his brethren worshipped it. At another 
time he saw the sun, and moon, and eleven stars 
worship him. Joseph, the husband of Mary, as we 
read in Matth. ii. 13. had a revelation in a dream : 
"Arise, and take the Child and His mother, and 
fly into Egypt...... For it will come to pass that 

Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him." And 
at another time in Egypt, after the death of 
Herod, an angel appeared to him in sleep, and 
said, " Arise, and take the Child and His mother, 
and go into the land of Israel ; for they are dead 
that sought the life of the Child." 

The devil, too, has his prophets, as we have 
said, and his dreamers of dreams, whose imagina 
tion he influences, and therein represents and sug 
gests many things ; sometimes, too, he reveals 
secret things in the manner he can, filling the 
soul with hurtful superstitions and ruinous delu- 


sions. Thyrseus* lays down seven tests from 
which dreams cannot be divine : the first is, the 
confusion of matters which occur in dreams ; the 
second, their falseness ; the third, their trifling 
character j the fourth, their wickedness ; the fifth, 
their uselessness ; the sixth, their superfluousness ; 
the seventh, the impiety of those who dream. He 
then shows it to be necessary that the contrary 
of this should be found in those dreams which 
may be admitted as divine, but that, however, is 
not enough to make them divine, but it is neces 
sary, in reference to the present question, that what 
is revealed in sleep should be such, as that the 
certain knowledge of it can be derived to men 
only from God, and the movement of the mind 
such as God alone produces. 

He treats this at great length in another place,! 
and Gaspar a RejesJ says it is the opinion of theolo 
gians : but Cardinal Bona^ more clearly says, that 
those dreams are from the devil which suggest use 
less superstitions and vain things which move people 
in any way to evil, which reveal secret things only 
to gratify curiosity or make an ostentatious show 
of knowledge, which foretell future events, but 
which the issues prove to have been false, which 
are disordered and confused, and which imme 
diately vanish away. And on the other hand the 
proofs of divine dreams are the subjects them 
selves, which thereby become known, if they are 

* Lib. 3, de Imaginaria apparitione. 

t De Visionibus, c. 9. % Loc, cit. c. 37, n. 42. 

De Discret. spirit, c. 16. 


such as can be revealed only by God, such as the 
secrets of hearts, the hidden mysteries of faith, 
future contingenees dependent on free will. He 
adds, that God, when He sends dreams, enlightens 
the mind, and moves the will so that it shall 
firmly cling to them, and certainly know that they 
proceed from God, nor does it at any time forget 
them. He concludes that a more certain proof 
is derived from the subject of the dream than from 
the manner in which it occurs, for God sometimes 
sends them in a state of the profoundest repose, 
sometimes with great bodily uneasiness, some 
times He sends a dream without the understanding 
thereof, sometimes the understanding, sometimes 
He manifests things clearly and openly, sometimes 
obscurely and in riddles. Torre* speaks to the 
same purpose. 

7. What now remains for discussion is, how a 
divine apparition may be distinguished from the 
angelic ; that is, by what signs it may plainly 
appear that God is represented by the apparition 
of an angel, or that an angel appears without 
representing God. Theologians supply some rules. 
The first is derived from the matter of the vision 
and apparition ; for if that properly belong to 
God, we must decide that the angel has appeared 
representing God ; but if it properly belong to 
an angel, we must then say that an angel has 
appeared, and that the apparition was purely 
angelic. An instance of divine apparition is the 
apparition made to Adam, when God asked him 

* 2. 2dse. Thorn, qu. 95, art. 6, disp. 6. 


where he was, cursed the serpent, and inflicted 
the penalty on Eve because of the transgression 
of the divine precept. This apparition, though 
effected by the ministry of angels, must be said 
to be an apparition of Himself, on account of the 
supreme authority and power of a judge therein 
exhibited. An instance of an apparition purely 
angelical is that of the angel who became the 
companion of Tobias, that of Gabriel the arch 
angel, when he announced to the Blessed Virgin 
Mary the Incarnation of the Divine Word ; these 
were appropriate to angels. 

The second rule is derived from the manner of, 
and authority in speaking. We have an instance 
in Genes, xvi. 20, where the angel of the Lord ap 
peared to Agar, and said to her, " I will multiply thy 
seed exceedingly, and it shall not be numbered for 
multitude." Seeing that God alone could promise 
this, He in truth it was who in promising ap 
peared, and spoke by an angel, wherefore Agar 
said; "Thou the God Who hast seen me." The 
ologians gather from the manner of, and authority 
in speaking, that it was a divine, and not a mere 
angelic apparition, when Abraham was commanded 
to sacrifice his son, according to Valentia* in his 
Commentaries on S. Thomas, Stephen Bubalus,t 
and Durant.J 

It is certain that a judicial power belongs and 
is due to Christ our Lord, on two grounds, one 

* 1 part. disp. 4, qu. 2, punct. 2. 

f Comm. Angelic, qu. 51, 1 part. D. Thorn, quses. 2, diffic. 2, 2 8. 
t De Visionibus, c. 4, ?? Pergimus nune. 


of which is His divine Person, the other is His 
merits. This judicial power is to be exercised, not 
only in the universal judgment, but is exercised 
in the particular judgment, when each person 
departs this life. There is a question how this 
particular judgment is made ; whether Christ 
our Lord in person pronounces the sentence, 
condemns these to punishment, and call those 
to their reward, or whether an angel does this 
in His name, so that they who are judged receive 
their sentence not immediately from Christ, but 
from an angel, the Vicar and legate of Christ. 
Some think that Christ does this by means of 
angels, who are ministering spirits ; in which 
case, then, those apparitions of the angels are 
not simply angelic, but divine. Others, consi 
dering it to be unnecessary that the judge should 
be present to pronounce the sentence, and un 
necessary also that the sentence should be pro 
nounced by a sensible voice, for spiritual hearing 
and speaking are not impeded by local distance, 
agree with the bishop of Avila*, that Christ 
comes at the death of every one, not according 
to a local presence, but in effect, so that every 
one recognises his own condition, hears the com 
mand and sentence of the judge, and in virtue 
thereof proceeds at once to the place which his 
merits have earned for him. This is discussed 
at some length by Thyrseus.t 
8. But be it as it may with respect to this last 

* Qu. 23, in. Matth. c. 24. 
t De apparit. Christi in judicio particular*, e. 26. 


question concerning the appearance of Christ 
in the particular judgment, nothing now re 
mains before bringing this chapter to an end, 
but to say something of the other question before 
us, whether it be lawful to adore or venerate the 
spirit which represents Christ or the Blessed 
Virgin, or any one of the saints. This question 
is discussed by Gravina.* But the clear teach 
ing of S. Thomasf must not be abandoned, who 
thus speaks : " The devil, assuming the appearance 
of Christ, cannot be worshipped without sin, unless 
there be an actual explicit condition ; for an habitual 
one is not sufficient, because the novelty of an un 
usual circumstance requires consideration and 
attention, as it is said of the Blessed Virgin, that 
she thought." BonaventureJ follows, and propos 
ing the question, " whether latria may be given to 
the enemy of Christ ;" replies thus : " Latria may 
be given to the enemy of Christ in two ways, 
absolutely or conditionally ; if absolutely, then 
I say it cannot be done without sin, nor is it 
excusable on the ground of ignorance, for there 
are three means of avoiding the error. The 
first is the warnings of Holy Scripture, which 
frequently says, that many will come deceitfully 
in the name of Christ. The second is, interior 
prayer, by which man ought to have recourse 
to God, that his heart may be enlightened. The 
third is, to suspend his own belief, for man ought 
not to believe every spirit, but to prove them if 

* Lap, Lyd. lid. 2. c, 3, diff. 3. 

t 3 Sent. dist. 9, qu. 1, art. 2, qusest, 6. 

t 3 Sent. dist. 9, art. 1, qu. 6. 


they are from God. For he who is ready to 
believe them is light of heart, and perhaps even 
proud, when he thinks himself qualified to receive 
such visions and revelations. But if he worships 
conditionally, this may take place in two ways, 
either that condition is habitually considered, 
or applied. If actually, thus they do not worship 
Lucifer, but rather Christ, for the adoration is 
not given but on condition, and is referred to 
Him, to Whom is referred the implied adoration. 
But if that condition be under an habitual con 
sideration, in this way it is not sufficient to avoid 
the sin of idolatry." 



1. HAVING treated of visions and apparitions, 
and shown how the natural may be distinguished 
from the preternatural, and how the divine differ 
from the diabolical, it is necessary now to speak 
of those visions and apparitions with reference to 
the causes of beatification and canonization. 

2. Visions and apparitions, even divine, have 
been granted to the good and the evil ; therefore 
Cardinal Bona* says : " All visions and appari 
tions have this in common, that they are granted 

* De Discret. Spirit, c. 19, n. 1. 


to the wicked as well as the good ; and no ona 
is to be considered more holy or more perfect 
than another because spirits appear to him, and 
the other is without that gift." Heathens, also, 
and wicked men, have had divine visions and 
apparitions. Pharao saw the fat and the thin 
oxen, the full and the empty ears of corn. 
Balaam the magician, when he was going to curse 
the people of God, and his ass stood refusing to 
proceed, saw an angel stand before him in the 
way with a drawn sword. Baltassar, the son of 
Nabuchodonosor, during the feast, saw a hand 
write strange letters on the wall. 

Cardinal de Laursea,"* considering these and 
other instances, says : " Visions and revelations, 
even divinely granted, are not always a proof of his 
sanctity to whom they are given. It was therefore 
not necessary that God should determine to grant 
them to contemplatives, even those who have 
raptures and ecstasies." In one word, visions, 
apparitions, and revelations, are graces gratis 
dates. ; and hence it is that they are granted even 
to sinners, according to what Father Antony of 
the Annunciation! has laid down. 

When we were speaking before of the other 
graces gratis datce, we said that they were be 
stowed upon the good and the wicked, but 
that God more frequently gave them to the 
good and eminent for virtue. We say the 
same, too, of visions and apparitions beyond 

* Opusc, 5, de Oratione. c.,7. 
f Discept. Mystic, tr. 4, qu. 2, art. 6, n. 34. 


nature, as Thyrseus* has observed, who says : 
" Goodness and truth seem to be the opportuni 
ties for God to deal more familiarly with some 
persons, and to communicate of His own and 
Himself to those who give themselves up wholly 
to God and to the divine service. Hence it is, 
that they are now regarded as saints and friends 
of God, in whom God is present by His own reve 
lations, and speaking divinely to them, and what 
we know to have been formerly the case, we 
scarcely believe in other holy men." 

Finally, omitting natural visions and appari 
tions, of which no account is to be rnadd in causes 
of beatification and canonization ; omitting, also, 
the diabolical, of which no suspicion can be 
entertained, when treating of the virtues of the 
servants of God in order to their beatification and 
canonization, as we have elsewhere said, there can 
be no question about virtues, unless after legiti 
mate proof of the fame of sanctity and miracles, 
with which the suspicion of diabolical intercourse 
is utterly inconsistent ; we maintain, that as in the 
case of grace gratis data, visions and apparitions 
which are beyond nature must be taken into 
consideration in causes of beatification and canoni 
zation ; the conditions already spoken being 
assumed by which a divine vision is distinguished 
from that which is natural and diabolical ; and 
virtue being proved to have been heroic, as we 
said when we were speaking of the other graces 
gratis datce. 

* De Apparit. Intellect, lib. 4, c. 9, n. 13. 


Moreover, if in the other graces gratis datce 
proof must be had, by which it shall be clear that 
they were preceded by heroic virtues, although 
the aforesaid graces might be proved by other 
witnesses, and are proved by other witnesses, 
much more necessary is the proof of those virtues 
in the case of visions and apparitions, which in no 
other way can be proved than by his word who 
sees them, and to whom the apparition was made; 
he, therefore, who is to give evidence in his own 
cause, and believed, ought to be an unexcept- 
able witness, and consequently endowed with 
heroic virtues. Besides, if in distinguishing and 
discerning visions and apparitions, it is necessary 
to consider the person to whom the apparition is 
made, the manner of it, and the issues of it, 
heroic virtues alone, then, can reveal and clearly 
show the character of the person, and the subse* 
quent issues of them. 

3. Many instances of beatification and canoni 
zation may be alleged, in which visions and appa 
ritions were considered in the way we have men 
tioned. Before all the others we bring forward 
the cause of S. Teresa. According to the cus 
tom at that time, the Auditors of the Rota made 
their Report on the subject of her virtues, and 
having given an exact account of her visions, 
apparitions, and revelations, they proceeded as fol 
lows: " That these visions, and revelations, and all 
the others which the Blessed Teresa had, as they ap 
pear in her writings, were true, and proceeded from 
the Holy Ghost, had in them no delusion nor parti 
cipation of the evil spirit, we were most easily con- 


vinced, first, from the excellent sanctity and he 
roic virtues of that blessed virgin, as it appears 
clearly from all the articles of this second part ; 
also, from the effects resulting from those visions 
and revelations, namely, a profound humility, an 
increase of the love of God, and of other virtues, 
and also the profit and edification of her neigh 
bours ; and also from the approbation of so many 
grave men, distinguished as well for learning as 
prudence, virtue, and piety, whom we have already 
mentioned more than once, especially in the second 
article, when we were treating of sanctity in gen 
eral, among whom we find prelates, masters, and 
public professors of theology, and almost all the con 
fessors of that blessed virgin, to whom she was 
always accustomed to manifest the favours and 
graces which God bestowed upon her in prayer 
and rapture, that they might examine them all, 
and direct her, and decide whether in those divine 
favours there was any delusion to be avoided. She 
consulted them, too, with the determination and 
resolution of following their counsel, and trusting 
to them rather than to those revelations ; for she 
used to say, that in obeying her confessors she 
could not err, as she could in trusting to revela 
tions and visions. Therefore, on account of that 
most accurate examination of the spirit of this 
blessed virgin, and of her visions and revelations, 
and the approbation thereof by so many distin 
guished and learned men, no doubt can arise 
that those revelations and visions were true, pro 
ceeded from a good and true spirit, and not from 
a delusive and false one. Those visions and revela- 


tions are not the less proved, because the principal 
attestation to them is derived from her writings 
in her books already mentioned, and from ten 
of her confessors, who deposed to what they had 
heard from her ; namely, the bishop of Calahorra, 
Don Pedro Manso, the bishop of Tirasona, Don 
Diego de Yepez, the bishop of Avila, Don John de 
la Cuebas, and the bishop of Segovia, Don Pedro 
de Castro, Fra. Bartholomew de Medina, Dominic 
Banes, Diego de Janguas, Dominicans, Father 
Ejidio Gonzales de Avila, Father Henry Henri- 
quez, and Father Jerome de Ripalda, of the So 
ciety of Jesus, beside other distinguished men 
whom we have often mentioned : because, as we 
have already shown in the report on the miracles, 
revelations and visions are proved by one credi 
ble witness ; and as by the nature of the case other 
witness cannot be had, and these cannot be proved 
but by him to whom God has granted such favours, 
the subject matter compels us to give credit to 
those blessed souls who have experienced them, 
and to their confessors, who have heard of them 
from them, as it was settled in terms in the Report 
in the cause of S. Francesca ; and upheld by many 
things laid down in the report in the cause of S. 
Raymund. And this especially, for there is evi 
dent and clear proof of great and exalted sanctity, 
and also of many and great miracles wrought by 
God through the merits and intercession of that 
blessed virgin, Teresa, which have this among 
other effects, of obtaining greater credit to her 
sayings and writings. That God should speak 
familiarly with his most faithful servants by 


means of visions and revelations, and make 
known His secrets to them, is nothing strange 
or unusual. When the Divine Majesty was about 
to destroy utterly those cities, he thus speaks : 
* Can I hide from Abraham what I am about to 
do ? (Genes, xviii. 17.) and in the prophecy of 
Amos (iii. 7.) For the Lord doth nothing with 
out revealing His secret to His servants the pro 
phets. Our Lord thus speaks to his apostles, 
(John. xv. 15.) I will not now call you servants^ 
for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. 
But I have called you friends, because all things 
whatsoever I have heard of My Father, I have 
made known to you. And we read that almost 
all the saints, especially the founders of orders, 
were endowed with visions and revelations, as in 
the histories of S. Benedict, S. Bernard, S. Dom 
inic, S. Francis and others, which are easily 
accessible, and wherein innumerable visions and 
revelations, and other divine favours bestowed, as 
well upon the founders themselves as upon some 
of their disciples, is found recorded. Without 
doubt, then, God speaks familiarly with His friends, 
and especially favours those whom He chooses for 
great things, of whom it is certain that she was 
one, and the foundress of the most perfect order, 
and given us by the most good God to teach 
spiritual knowledge, as we have proved before 
in the second article on sanctity in general." 

4. Cardinal Bona, in the treatise so frequently 
referred to, enumerates the characteristics of the 
visions, apparitions, and revelations of S. Teresa, 
saying that they serve as a test for the value of 


others. In the first place, then, as he there 
speaks, she was always afraid of diabolical illu 
sions, so that she never asked for, or desired 
visions, but rather prayed God to lead her in the 
ordinary way, wishing only for this, that the 
Divine Will be done in her. In the second place, 
though the devil usually bids those things to be 
kept secret which he reveals, she always heard 
from the spirit that appeared to her that she 
might communicate with learned men. In the 
third place, she obeyed her directors most care 
fully, and after her visions advanced more and 
more in charity and humility. In the fourth 
place, she more readily spoke to those who were 
incredulous, and loved those who persecuted her. 
In the fifth place, her mind was tranquil and 
joyful, and in her heart was a fervent desire of 
perfection. In the sixth place, he who spoke 
interiorly to her reprehended her imperfections. 
In the seventh place, when it was said to her that 
if she desired of God what was just, she should 
without doubt obtain it, she desired many things, 
and always obtained them. In the eighth place, 
whoever conversed with her, unless an evil dispo 
sition stood in the way, were stirred up to the 
love of God. In the ninth place, the visions and 
apparitions took place for the most part after long 
and fervent prayer, or after receiving the Eucha 
rist, and kindled in her the most fervent desire of 
suffering for God. In the tenth place, she sub 
dued the flesh by disciplines and hair-cloth, and 
rejoiced in tribulations, calumnies, and infirmities. 
In the eleventh place, she loved solitude, disliked 


all intercourse with the world, and tore herself 
away from every human affection. In the twelfth 
place, both in prosperity and adversity she pre 
served the same tranquillity of mind. Lastly, 
learned men observed nothing in her visions and 
apparitions inconsistent with faith and Christian 
religion, or anything blameable whatsoever. 

5. That which relates to not seeking after 
visions, or desiring them, may be corroborated by 
the authority of S. Bonaveuture,* whose words are 
these : " To some it seems safer not to seek them, 
not to be too ready to trust them when offered. 
tSometimes to esteem them lightly when offered as 
less profitable, so as to regard them, if true, with 
indifference, if false, not to lean on them, that 
they may not be deceived." Gersont also speaks 
in the same way, saying that we must humbly 
renounce them, and giving us the following for 
mula for doing it: "Let it be said reverently 
with Peter, Depart from me, for I am a sinful 
man, Lord, Luk. v. 8, for I am vile, unworthy of 
Thy visions, which I neither seek nor accept, but 
reject. Let me see Thee in heaven, not here ; my 
whole reward is the Lord God, and is sufficient, 
What have I to do with visions of Thee in this 
world ?" A little before, he says, "Some one will 
object to me the words of the Apostle, 1 Thessal. 
v. 19: Extinguish not the spirit. If the 
vision, then, be from the Holy Ghost, and never 
theless is rejected, what is this but to resist the 

* De Prof. Relig. lib. 2, c. 75, p. 649, Tom. 7. 

t De Probat. Spirit. Tom 1, col. 41. 
23 VOL. in. 


Holy Ghost, and to choke this rising grace ? Bat 
indeed the Holy Ghost, Who gives Himself to the 
humble, will never withdraw Himself on account 
of this humiliation. He will enter rather, and in 
His good pleasure, and will lead the soul that is 
vile in its own eyes triumphantly on high, and 
without any wrinkle of hypocrisy." 

5. Philip gave the same advice, as we learn from 
his Life, written by Father Bacci,* where, among 
other things, we read thus : " He advised, and very 
frequently commanded his penitents to repel them 
with all their might, that they should not suppose 
that they thereby displeased the divine Majesty ; 
for this is one way of ascertaining the true 
visions from the false." S. Vincent Ferrer, in his 
treatise on the spiritual life quoted by Gravina : 
" For such a desire cannot be found without the 
root and foundation of pride and presumption, 
yea, of the temptation to curiosity with respect 
to divine things, nor without some vacillation and 
uncertainty in matters of faith." Gravinaf pro 
ceeds with the subject, relying on the authority of 
S. Teresa and other masters of the spiritual life. 

6. The same may be said of the other circum 
stances of the visions and revelations of S. Teresa, 
and which are well considered by Cardinal Bona, 
of the necessity of communicating them to learned 
men, not credulous, but rather timid ; something 
is said by S. Bonaventure : " Let them seek the 
advice of the wise only, and of but few." Among 
the other signs by which the visions, apparitions, 

* Lib. 3, c. 2, p. 20. + Lyd. Lap. part. 2, lib, 2, c. 18. 


and revelations of S. Bridget are accounted divine, 
that is mentioned, that she used to submit all to 
the judgment of wise men, as Cardinal Torque- 
mada says in the Prologue to those Revelations : 
" She submitted with great humility the whole to 
the examination, judgment, and correction of her 
spiritual father, and other spiritual fathers and 
wise prelates of the church." 

John Gerson, in the place referred to, has left 
this wholesome counsel to confessors and the 
spiritual guides of souls : " Beware, then, whoever 
thou art, who hearest or givest advice, that thou 
dost not praise that person nor commend him, nor 
admire him as a saint, and worthy to receive 
revelations, and to work miracles. Resist him 
rather, chide him harshly, treat with contempt 
him whose heart is exalted, and whose eyes are 
lofty, so that he walketh in great matters, and in. 
wonderful things above himself ; let him not seem 
to himself to be such an one as may work out his 
own salvation, not in the human way of others, 
according to the teaching of the scripture and the 
saints, and according to the dictates of natural 
reason, unless he presumes to have counsel, 
and thinks he has it, not only from angels, but 
from God, not even once in his difficulties, but 
almost continually, and, as it were, in daily com 
munications. Admonish such an one not to think 
highly, but to think unto soberness, for He saith 
most truly who hath said, Pride deserves 
reproach. Let the examples of the holy fathers 
be mentioned, who have fled from the most fatal 
and most fallacious curiosity of visions and 


miracles. S. Augustine, in his confessions, glo 
ries in our Lord that he was delivered from it. 
Besides, Bonaventure determines that it is to be 
greatly abhorred, and to be repelled with all our 
might, now with prayers, now with rebukings or 
chastisements of mind and body, imitating him, 
who, to free himself from the temptation of pride, 
sought and obtained of our Lord that he might be 
for three months tormented by diabolical obses 
sion." Philamarini* and Gravina,t with others, 
speak to the same effect. 

7. Cardinal Torquemada, in his Prologue to 
the Revelations of S. Bridget, speaks of profound 
mental calm, an increase of the love of God, 
and continual humility, as signs of a divine vision 
and revelation : " She perceived a certain sweet 
ness of interior delight, and was consumed with 
the burning fire of divine love. The higher she 
was raised, and the more abundantly she was 
favoured with the divine illumination, the more 
profound was the humility with which she con 
fessed God the Father of light, from Whom cometh 
every best gift and every perfect gift, and she 
glorified Him, and blessed Him with continual 
praise." Gerson j also saith : " It is a most whole 
some advice to men to practise humility against 
such illusions of the devil, to consider themselves 
unworthy, equally in reference to their under 
standing and disposition, to receive such revela 
tions in preference to other men, and to be visited 

* Divin. Revel, tr. 1, c. 3, n. 7. t Git. opp. part. 2, tit. 1, c. 7. 
t Distinct, ver. vision, a falais, Tom. 1, col. 46. 


by God beyond other men. And if such things 
occur, let them cast them away from them with 
a holy, humble, and modest shamefacedness. 
Let a man attribute such to an injured con 
dition of his imagination, and let him be afraid 
that he is in the circumstances of delirious or 
maniacal or melancholy persons ; or let him take 
heed that he- is not given over to a reprobate 
sense, so as to be deluded by such illusions. If, 
then, they are the machinations or temptations of 
the devil, they will disappear before humility of 
this kind, or if it be the will of God that he shall 
be exercised in such sufferings, they will not hurt 
him. But if it be a divine revelation, unfeigned 
humility, piously struggling against it, will so 
much the more prepare for its reception, and 
will deserve to hear, Friend, go up higher, 
(Luke xiv. 10.) the more he endeavours to sit in a 
a lower place." 

Master John de Avila, in his treatise enti 
tled "Audi filia" c. 52, gives this counsel to 
one who sought it, on the subject of his own 
visions and apparitions : " If thou becomest 
more humble, and more ashamed of thy sins of 
omission and commission, and hast greater rever 
ence and fear before the infinite majesty of God, 
and hast not entertained the vain desire of com 
municating to others what thou hast received 
from God, and perceivest thy heart to be calm, 
even more than before, and perseverest in the 
knowledge of thyself, as before the revelation, that 
is a sign that it is from God. But when this is 
an artifice of the devil, the contrary takes place ; 


for at the commencement or the close of the 
vision or revelation, the soul feels a vain desire 
of speaking of those things with much self-esteem, 
thinking that God is about to do great things 
therein ; and it has no wish to consider its own 
defects, and will not allow itself to be blamed." 

When the Blessed Angela de Foligno was in 
doubt concerning her own visions, apparitions, and 
revelations, our Lord God thus spoke to her : 
" Know then by this that it is I Who speaks to 
thee, that thou canst not betake thyself to any 
other thoughts at that time, even though thou 
didst wish it, nor be troubled with vain-glory on 
account of what thou dost receive." And on 
another occasion : " The external signs which thou 
dost require to show that it is I Who speaks to 
thee, are uncertain, and liable to deceive. But 
now I will give thee a sign so certain, that the 
devil cannot imitate it, and that is, so burning and 
vehement a desire of enduring suffering and con 
tempt for My sake, that thou shalt have the same 
pleasure in seeing thyself despised that others 
have in being honoured." 

8. Gravina* requires the chastisement of the 
flesh and its mortification. These are his words : 
" It is further to be inquired into whether these 
alleged gifts and graces were united with mortifi 
cation and the cross ; for if these be not united 
either antecedently, concomitantly, or subse 
quently, such revelations and prophecies are to 
be suspected. The proof is, that these gifts are 

* Cit, op. pt, 2, tit. 1, c, 17. 


granted for the manifestation of the faith, and for 
the good of the church. But faith, principally 
above all other signs, is shown by mortification 
and Christian patience ; for by these the Chris 
tian religion grew, and by these the world 
was overcome and trodden underfoot. Much 
more necessary is it in these later times to 
have regard to these signs, rather than to any 
other marvellous things, that we may know 
whether these gifts come down from the Father of 
lights. Jesus Christ Himself, the Author of our 
faith, the Apostles, the doctors of the church, 
have said little or nothing of these visions, or 
written, or taught, but laid the whole foundation 
of the Christian building on charity, humility, 
mortification, and enduring persecution," and the 
conversion of others as the sign of divine visions 
and apparitions. 

The bishop of Jae n, in his work cited below, gives 
this as a proof of divinity : " And therefore when 
we see that from such visions or revelations the 
nrin d is illuminated, the understanding and the 
conscience purified, the life corrected and amended, 
wicked men converted to lead a virtuous and devout 
life, from war and hatred to peace, from pride to 
humility and obedience, from evil to good, and this 
in many persons, and long continues, then is it a 
most certain sign that such visions and revelations, 
which produce such fruits, have proceeded, not 
from the devil, but from the Holy Ghost ; these 
things are impossible for the devil to effect, yea, 
the contrary to this proceeds from his visions, or 
rather illusions/ 


9. Love of solitude, and of retirement from 
human society, with reference to the present 
subject, is considered by Larrea,* who infers from 
it that those visions and apparitions are justly 
suspected, which he who has them makes known 
and reveals everywhere ; " Boastingly to speak of 
these revelations, and to mention them to every 
one without hesitation, seem to take away from a 
man, although sincere, the credit of his visions ; 
and this too brings them under just suspicion. 
To make known and reveal everywhere the signs 
and traces of divine favour, is most alien from the 
practice and profession of the saints ; for many 
who had true visions have taken great pains to 
conceal them, and have enjoined secrecy upon 
those who have come to the knowledge of them. 
The words " reveals everywhere" are to be 
observed ; for to make them known to a good 
man, or with a view to the profit of his own soul, 
to whom the vision or apparition is granted, is in 
no wise forbidden. Therefore S. Teresat thus 
writes : " I do not know why it is permitted that 
for the sake of human conversation and affection, 
although frequently not good, men may procure 
themselves friends, with whom they may unbend, 
and rejoice in empty pleasures, and is not per 
mitted to him who begins to serve and love God in 
earnest to communicate to any his pleasures and 
his troubles. When the friendship which he has 
with his Majesty is in earnest, let him not be 
afraid of vain -glory. He will benefit himself and 

* Nov. decis. Senat. Granat. pt. 1, n. 61, 62. 
t Vit. c. 7, p. 27 


those who will hear him, and they will go hence 
from him better instructed." 

To this may be referred what we have said 
elsewhere on the subject of boastfulness and vain- 
glory. Revelations are peculiarly concerned in 
what we have said respecting agreement with the 
principles of the faith and of Christian perfection, 
and we shall, therefore, speak of it when we treat 
of revelations. The venerable servant of God, 
Lewis a Ponte,* speaks of all these characteris 
tics by which divine visions are distinguished from 
diabolical, and Tannerf repeats them. 

10. For these reasons we must say in conclud 
ing this chapter, that in causes of beatification and 
canonization, no account is to be made of visions 
and apparitions, but after proof of the virtues in 
the heroic degree, and as GravinaJ well observes, 
unless also the end of his life to whom visions, 
apparitions, and revelations have been granted, 
has been remarkable and full of holiness. But if 
this be necessary in causes of beatification and 
canonization as we have shown elsewhere it is 
particularly necessary in their case, to whom, 
when living, visions and apparitions have been 

The bishop of Jaen, in his book cited below, 
speaks as follows: "The sixth sign that. ..they 
are from God and not from the evil spirit, is the 
noble and virtuous death of him who has had 
visions. For we must keep in mind that when 

* Divi, Spiritual, tr. 1, c, 24. 
t Loc. cit. tr. 1, c. 9. t Loc. cit. lib. 1, c, 5, c. 14. 


persons have been deceived by visions or illusions 
the devil, showing them many things that are 
true, in order at last to deceive them by one great 
falsehood we find in the writings of the holy 
fathers that they who are thus deluded are cut 
off by the devil by an evil or sudden death, or 
without the sacraments. And it is the will of 
God to make this known to others, to teach them 
to beware of similar deceitful illusions. But, on 
the other hand, God works marvels in the death 
of the saints who were comforted and enlightened 
during their lives with divine visions or revela 
tions. In their lifetime He by His protection guided 
them, and distinguished them with many virtues 
and miracles. In death also He glorified them 
wonderfully by singular favours, as a certain mark 
of His approval." We say, too, that visions and 
apparitions cannot be accounted heavenly and 
divine unless they have also that characteristic 
we have mentioned : and lastly, that silence is 
not to be imposed on those causes, neither are 
they to be lightly esteemed in which, though 
heroic virtues have been evidently proved, visions 
and apparitions are yet wanting. 

11. We have said in another place that visions 
and apparitions cannot be proved but on his word, 
or by his writings, to whom they are said to have 
been granted. Confessors and spiritual directors, 
whose depositions are received, always derive their 
knowledge thereof from the person to whom the 
vision or apparition has been granted, Virtues, 
increase of virtue, and many of the qualifications 
already enumerated, by the help of which heavenly 


visions are distinguished, may be ascertained from 
other witnesses ; but as some of them can be proved 
only by the testimony of spiritual directors, a 
cause of beatification and canonization full of 
visions and apparitions cannot be brought to a 
prosperous issue without the testimony of spiri 
tual directors to the nature of those visions and 
apparitions, and unless, moreover, there be clear 
evidence of their goodness, prudence, and experi 
ence, Torquemada, in the Prologue to the Reve 
lations of S. Bridget, enumerates the most learned 
men who had considered and examined them. 

Alfonso, Bishop of Jaen, afterwards a holy her 
mit, and the companion of S. Bridget in her 
travels, in the Prologue to the eighth book of her 
Revelations,* thus speaks of the approbation by 
learned men of the divine visions, apparitions, 
and revelations of that saint : " Clear and mani 
fest is that divine grace divinely granted to that 
blessed saint, which cannot be obscured by the 
efforts of any deceiving spirit, especially as she 
had been tested on this subject in Sweden by 
prelates, spiritual men and masters in theology, 
by whom it was determined that the grace was 
divine, and divinely bestowed upon her by the 
Holy Spirit. Again, at Naples, in the presence 
of Don Bernard the archbishop, three masters in 
theology, many knights and learned men, where 
of I am witness, was this grace approved of." 
The spirit of Teresa was tested by S. Peter of 
Alcantara, S. Francis Borgia, John of Avila, 

* C. 6, p/268. 


Baltassar Alvarez, Dominic Bannez, and many 
other good and learned men. 

When I was Promoter of the Faith there were 
three causes of beatification and canonization, in 
which there was a question of visions and appari 
tions, namely, those of S. Catherine Ricci, the ven 
erable servant of God Joseph of Cupertino, and the 
venerable servant of God Alfonso de Orosco ; to 
which maybe added another, after my resignation, 
that of Catherine of Genoa. In all these there 
were not wanting the most abundant testimonies 
of pious and learned men, who, having duly con 
sidered everything, had decided in favour of the 
supernatural character of those visions and ap 
paritions which they well knew from conversing 
with them to whom they happened, and from 
their communicating them, in order to obtain 
direction and advice. 

12. We also said that silence is not to be im 
posed on those causes, and that they are not to 
be treated lightly, in which heroic virtues are 
fully proved, but visions and apparitions are want 
ing. These are indeed like the other graces 
gratis dates. Wherefore S. Vincent Ferrer* says, 
" Have no regard to those visions, sentiments, and 
raptures; yea, if they -say anything to thee con 
trary to faith, to the Holy Scriptures, or against 
good morals, hate those visions and sentiments 
as foolish madness, and those raptures as rav 
ings." And, therefore saving those causes in 
which graces gratis datoe are found, if there be also 

* Yit. Spirit, c. J3. 


heroic virtue as we have said, that graces gratis 
dates make the virtues more conspicuous in those 
causes wherein those graces abound, we think 
that the same is to be said of visions and appari 
tions, if they to whom they have been granted 
have been endowed with heroic virtues, as S. 
Vincent Ferrer says, in the place already referred 
to, in these words : " Yet if they speak, or judge 
herein according to faith he is speaking of revel- 
lations and apparitions and according to Holy 
Scripture, and good and holy manners, despise 
them not, for thou wouldest be then despising what 
is of God. Yet do not wholly trust them, for fre 
quently, especially in spiritual temptations, what 
is false is introduced or concealed under the like 
ness of good, that the devil might be able often and 
better to diffuse his deadly poison without suspicion; 
and I, therefore, think it more pleasing to God 
to dismiss those visions, sentiments, and raptures, 
which have as we have said a show of goodness 
and truth, for what they are worth ; unless they 
are granted to persons on the ground of sanctity 
and discretion, and their humble goodness, of 
whom it is certain that they cannot be deceived 
by illusions nor by the arts of the devil." 

13. You will say that visions, apparitions, and 
revelations, and their character, may be ascer 
tained from other signs, of which we have 
not made any mention. For if the person to 
whom they happen be an infidel, an apostate, 
a novice in spiritual exercises, proud, ambi 
tious, carnal, drunken, wrathful, given to hatred, 
a hypocrite, all this is proof that they proceed 


from the devil, as Torre* * in his commentaries on 
S. Thomas, shows at length. To this we reply, 
that the examination into these takes place when 
the visions, revelations, and apparitions are dis 
cussed before the tribunal of the most holy In 
quisition, in order to ascertain whether a spiritual 
director of great prudence is to be assigned to 
a person to whom they have occurred, as if he 
were under a delusion, or whether he is to be 
.confined and separated from others on suspicion 
of affected holiness ; whether and what form of 
abjuration is to be enjoined him ; how far there 
is suspicion of heresy ; as is observed by Cardinal 
Albizzi.f And as this work of ours, such as it is, 
has reference to the causes of beatification and 
canonization, which are treated of in the Congre 
gation of Sacred Rites, it would be beside the 
purpose to inquire into these vices and sins. And 
as visions, apparitions, and revelations and their 
characteristics, are treated of after proof of vir 
tues and a reputation for them, it is most evident 
that we ought not to discuss those things which 
cannot co-exist with virtues and a reputation for 

2. 2dee. qu. 95, art. 3, disp. 3, in 3, class, signorum. 
J Jnconstantia in Fide, c. 40, n. 141. 




1. ALTHOUGH during the foregoing discussion on 
visions and apparitions, we frequently spoke of 
revelations, for much that concerns visions and 
apparitions concerns revelations also, neverthe 
less, it seems to us of sufficient importance to 
speak of those things which peculiarly belong to 
revelations. All visions and apparitions chiefly 
tend towards revealing to men some secret thing 
for their salvation and instruction, if they proceed 
from a good spirit, to their destruction and con 
demnation if from an evil spirit, as Cardinal 
Bona^- observes, with whom Scacchust agrees, 
who says that it is a revelation as often as any 
thing, till then unknown, is made known to men, 
and although in every vision some manifestation, 
takes place, that, however, is not sufficient to 
constitute a revelation ; for he who sees does not 
at times understand what he sees ; when he under 
stands, he is said to have a revelation. We read 
in the Acts of the Apostles, chap, x., that S. 
Peter " in an ecstasy of mind, saw the heaven 
opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it 
were a great linen sheet, let down by the four 
corners from heaven to the earth, wherein were all 

* Discret. Spirit, c. 20, n. 1. 
t De not. et Sign. Sanct. 8, c. 4, p. 617. 


manner of fourfooted beasts, and creeping things 
of the earth, and fowls of the air; and there came 
a voice to him, Arise, Peter, kill and eat/" 
Peter " doubted within himself what the vision 
that he had seen should mean." Without under 
standing it he went to Joppa, and having entered 
the house of Cornelius the centurion, and found 
many of the Gentiles there, who were waiting for 
him, to hear the word of God, then he understood 
the meaning of the vision of the linen sheet, and 
said to them, "You know how abominable it is 
for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or to 
come unto one of another nation ; but God hath 
showed me to call no man common or unclean." 
Peter had before seen and heard, but the vision 
assumed the nature of a revelation only when 
Peter understood it. Finally, Arauxo* thus 
speaks : "Vision and revelation refer to the same 
thing, with this only difference, that revelation 
presupposes vision, and contains in addition the 
understanding of that which is seen, according to 
the words, Dan. s. 1, For there is need of 
understanding in a vision. 

2. A private revelation, of which only we are 
treating here, is not proposed to the Church, but is 
granted in a peculiar manner to a certain person, 
whether the matter of the revelation be or be not 
for the general good of the church, according to 
Scacchust and Valentia.J We are not therefore 

* Decia. Moral, tr.3, qu. 23, 2? 2, n. 32. 

t De not. et Sign. Sanct. II 3, c. 4. 
J Comm. Theolog. Tom. 3, disp. 1, qu. 1, punct. 1, 5. 


speaking here of revelations made to the Apostles 
and prophets, whereon the catholic faith rests, 
according to S. Thomas,* who says, " For our 
faith rests on the revelation made to the Apostles 
and prophets who wrote the canonical books, but 
not on a revelation, if any, made to other doctors." 
Our faith, indeed, as to its substance, has not 
increased, although now some things are explicitly 
believed, which formerly were not known, as the 
same doctor! shows. He puts this question : 
" Whether the articles of the faith have increased 
in the course of time ;" and answers it thus : " As 
to the substance of the articles of the faith, there 
is no increase of them in the course of time, for 
whatever later generations believe was contained, 
though implicitly, in the faith of the fathers who 
have gone before us. But as regards the explana 
tion, the number of the articles has increased, 
because some things are explicitly known to later 
generations, which to former generations were not 
explicitly known." 

But we are restricted to private revelations, of 
which the same holy DoctorJ speaks thus : " John 
also wrote a prophetic book on the end of the 
church ; and in every age there has not been want 
ing men with the spirit of prophecy, not indeed, 
to bring forth a new doctrine of faith, but to direct 
the course of human acts." Also, as we have 
said that visions and apparitions are of three 
kinds, namely, natural, diabolical, and heavenly, 

* 1 part. qu. 1, art. S. t 2. 2dae. qu. 1, art. T. 

$ 2. 2dre. qu. 174, art. 6, 
24 VOL. in. 


or divine, so we may say the same of private 
revelations.* Those are natural which result 
from natural causes, from abundance of bile, from 
bodily weakness, from excessive watchings, from 
an injured brain, from a turbid and over vehe 
ment imagination, as Torret explains at length, 
and Martin del Rio,]: and Philamariui. 

Those are diabolical which proceed from the 
devil, for the devil reveals not only what is evil, 
but sometimes what is good, in order to deceive 
the unwary, or withdraw them from a greater 
good, or urge them to evil, as S. Gregory || ex 
plains it, upon those words of Job, " The beasts 
of the fields shall play." Many things relating to 
these diabolical revelations have been collected 
by Larrea,H by Martin del Rio,*-- and by Phila- 
marini,tf among which perhaps may be reckoned 
those said to have been made to heretics, both in 
ancient and modern times, unless they are to be 
attributed rather to their lying. Those are well 
known which have been published by Cerinthus, 
Montanus and his prophetess, also Luther, Carl- 
stadt, Thomas Munzer, and the anabaptists. 

Finally, those are heavenly and divine private 
revelations by which God sometimes illuminates 
and instructs a person for his own eternal salva- 

* Movra, de incant. ?2 2, c. 3, n. 2. Cardinal. Albit. de inconstantia 
in fide. c. 40. n. 132. 

+ 2. 2dae. Thorn, qu. 95. art, 3. dist. 3, in. 3. class, sequonm. 

I Disquis. Magic, lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 3, ?2 2, p. 4. 

8 De Kevelationibus. tr. 1, c. 2, n. 4. 

Moral, lib. 32, c. 17, lib. 33, c. 2, 

11 Decis. Granat, pt. 1, decis, ult. de revelat. n. 8. 

** Ibid, tf 2. tt Tract 1, c. 2, n. 10. 


tion, or that of others. We have an instance of a 
heavenly revelation in an epistle of S. Cyprian,* 
when he says, that he had a revelation from God 
of the Decian persecution : " For this was shown ; 
the master of the house was sitting, at his right 
hand sat a youth full of anxiety and mournful 
indignation, and with a sorrowful countenance, 
supporting his face with his hand. Another 
stood at the left hand holding a net, which he 
threatened to throw and take the people who 
stood around. And when he who saw it won 
dered what it meant, he was told that the young 
man who sat at the right hand was in grief 
and sorrow because his precepts were not ob 
served, and that he on the left exulted because an 
opportunity was given him of obtaining power to 
destroy from the master of the house. This 
was shown long before this calamitous tempest 
arose. We have seen fulfilled that which was 
shown, that while we are despising the precepts of 
our Lord, while we keep not the wholesome com 
mands of His law, the enemy received power to 
hurt us, and with his net covered us when we 
were unarmed and not on our guard to resist him. 
Let us pray instantly, and let us groan in contin 
ual prayer. For you know, my beloved brethren, 
that this is objected to us not long ago by vision, 
that we slumber in prayer, and do not watch and 
pray." The same S. Cyprian made known to his 
clergy that future peace had been divinely re 
vealed to him : " Lastly, to the least of His ser- 

* Ep 11, p. 186. 


vants, although bound down by many transgres 
sions, and unworthy of His regard, nevertheless, 
of His goodness towards us was He pleased to 
send. Bid him, said he, be secure, for peace will 
come, but first a little delay, for there are some 
who still must be tried. I ought not to conceal 
these things, and hide within my own heart, what 
may govern and instruct every one of us." 

3. The centuriators of Magdeburg, in their 
great hostility to private revelations beyond the 
limits of the canonical books, have endeavoured 
to get rid of them altogether, and Melancthon 
accounts them fabulous and superstitious. Among 
Catholics, Henry de Hassia, and Sibyllanus, 
though admitting some true and divine revelation 
beside the canon, yet say that some which were 
granted to women, however holy, are not to be 
approved of, or accepted as true, or as inspired 
by the Holy Ghost, as shall appear below. But 
Graviiia, in his book so often quoted, proves 
clearly against the centuriators, in the first place, 
that divine, private, and particular revelations 
must be admitted on valid evidence drawn from 
ecclesiastical history ; in the second place, that 
many other heretics have attempted in vain to get 
rid of theso true revelations ; in the third place, 
that many impostors pretended to them ; in the 
fourth place, that the gift of true private revela 
tion has not ceased in our times ; lastly, that the 
question turns upon this, how it may be rightly 
examined into and considered, what are the pri 
vate revelations which may be attributed to God 
as their author. To the effect of our present dis- 


cussion we have the revelations of the Blessed 
Hildegarde, the Blessed Litgarde, the Blessed 
Angela, daughter of the king of Bohemia, S. 
Gertrude, S. Bridget, and S. Teresa, which are 
treated of by Larrea in the work referred to.* 
The same subject is considered at length bj Theo- 
philus Rajnaud,f and also by Hurtado.J 

4. Cardinal Torquemada, in the Prologue to 
the Revelations of S. Bridget, mentions the signs 
by which a heavenly revelation is distinguished 
from that which is demoniacal. These are his 
words : " The first sign is, when they are ap 
proved by the judgment of great and experienced 
men. The second is derived from the effects 
which they leave behind in the soul of him to 
whom they are granted ; when devotion and 
humility increases in him, and the glory of God is 
promoted by these revelations. The third is 
derived from the subject matter, when all that 
is said is found to be true. The fourth is derived 
from the form of them, when they are consistent 
with Holy Scripture ; the fifth is derived from the 
character of their subject, namely, approved sanc 
tity. Suarez^ wisely observes, that in revelations 
we must begin by an accurate investigation, 
whether that which is said to be revealed be con 
trary to the Catholic faith or good manners, so 
that when its agreement with Holy Scripture 
and with good manners is established, then only 

* N. 5. t Heteroclit. Spirit, puuct. 2, p. 141. 

t Tract. Var. Tom. 1, tr. c>, c. 6, resolut. 54, 8 1. 

De Fide, disp. 3, ft 10, n. 7. 


occurs the opportunity of testing its other charac 
teristics, which would be altogether unseemly and 
superfluous, if that foundation fail us ; " This 
must be the first proof; afterwards, when it 
shall have appeared that the matter is not con 
trary to the Catholic Faith, other conjectures 
and signs are to be brought forward." 

5. The agreement, then, of revelation with the 
sacred writings, with divine and apostolic tradi 
tions, with the morality and definitions of the 
church, is the chief test of divine private revela 
tions ; not that any revelation is to be immediately 
regarded as heavenly and divine because it is in 
harmony with the sacred writings, apostolic tradi 
tions, the morality and definitions of the church, 
but, that as soon as anything appears therein 
inconsistent with these, it is to be rejected as 
lies, and illusions of the devil. The apostle says 
iii his epistle to the Galatians (1.) "If an angel 
from heaven preach a gospel besides that which 
we have preached to you, let him be anathema :" 
and again, (2. Thessal. xi. 14.) " Hold the tradi 
tions which you have learned," and again, (Hebr. 
xiii. 9.) "Be not led away with various and 
strange doctrines." We must say the same of 
revelations which contain anything at variance 
with the unanimous teaching of the holy fathers 
or of theologians : for the unanimous voice of the 
fathers cannot be in error in distinguishing the 
matter of faith. 
In the council of Trent* it was specially for- 

Sess, 4. 


bidden, under pain of anathema, to interpret 
the Holy Scriptures contrary to the unanimous 
sense of the holy fathers ; and when theologians 
with great consent teach that any doctrine is 
derived from the principles of faith, in the mat 
ter of faith or morals, they furnish a strong 
presumption that to contradict it is heretical, 
or very nearly so. Hence it is that in the 
first Clementine, the fathers of the council of 
Vienne determine that the opinion which says that 
infants, as well as adults, receive in baptism in 
forming grace and the virtues, to be chosen by 
catholics as the more probable, and the more in 
harmony and agreement with the sayings of the 
saints and modern theologians. But it must be 
here observed that the consent of the fathers is 
not to be understood mathematically, so that 
not one of the fathers of all ages shall be want 
ing, but morally, so that the consent shall be of 
all, or nearly of all. Cardinal Perron, therefore, 
thus explains the unanimous assent of the fathers 
in his learned reply to the king of Great Britain. 
It is then we are to understand the unanimous 
consent of fathers, when the most eminent of 
each nation agree in maintaining a certain pro 
position, so that none of them, who, always ortho 
dox, always agreed with the orthodox dissent from 
the rest." 

6. Moreover, what we have said of revelations 
inconsistent with the sacred writings > apostolic 
tradition, the unanimous consent of fathers and 
theologians, is necessarily to ba considered when 
we treat of revelations by which evil is encouraged ; 


or, if good be encouraged, it is so done as to be 
a hindrance to some greater good ; or if evil be 
mingled with good ; also, if the revelations contain 
lies or contradictions ; if curious and useless 
things be revealed ; if the matter revealed could 
have been discovered by human reason ; if any 
thing be revealed which, though it does not exceed 
the Divine power, is yet not conformable with 
the wisdom of God and His other attributes, for 
instance, if a person says that it has been revealed 
to him that the world moves in a straight line, 
that an angel is to be annihilated and then created 
anew ; if anything be revealed as about to happen 
which does not. 

Gerson* speaks as follows upon this subject: 
" Let us by no means omit to observe, that there 
are some things of this sort that, although they are 
not directly and plainly opposed to, or against the 
Divine Omnipotence which the Holy Scriptures set 
forth, so as to be absolutely impossible, are, never 
theless, to be neglected as vain and foolish, incon 
sistent with the divine wisdom, not lawfully formed 
by the wedge of truth, but drawn from other 
sources ; as for example, a person says that it 
has been revealed to him that the whole world 
to-morrow will move in a right line, that an 
angel will be annihilated and created again, not 
alleging any other advantage ; that every prelate 
ought to walk naked and alone, and carry on his 
shoulder a material cross ; otherwise the whole 
church will perish. Such, I say, are to be 

* De Distinct, ver. revel, sign. 4, Tom. 1, col. 54, 


rejected at once as ravings, and unworthy of 
divine revelation. It is not power alone that 
shows itself in the divine operations, but goodness 
and wisdom also, which He has poured forth over 
all His works ; "In wisdom," saith the Psalmist, 
"hast Thou made all things." With Gerson 
agree Martin del Rio, Gravina, Philamarini, and 
others who have written concerning revelations ; 
with whom agrees Arauxo.* 

Gersonf, too, shows at length that those reve 
lations are full of dangers, whereby anything is 
revealed which is not in accordance with Scrip 
ture or the fathers, and derived from certain 
considerations of propriety. His words are 
these : " The nineteenth truth : If it be said 
that Christ ought to do some external work be 
cause it becomes Him to do so, he who says 
this is deceived, because he takes for granted 
what is equally or more unknown, as if one were 
to reason erroneously, as follows : Christ could 
grant to His Mother in the womb to be born in 
glorious and perfect happiness ; it became him to 
do this, because it became Him to honour His 
Mother, therefore He did it. It is clear that this 
conclusion is heretical, and yet the premises are 
generally alleged by some in maintaining their 
conclusions. The twentieth truth : Christ did 
not communicate to His Mother the use of perfect 
reason at the instant of Her conception or Her 
birth, although He might have done it, and if He 

* Decis. Moral, tr, 3, qu. 23, 22 2, iin. 2841. 
+ De Suscept. Human. Christi. Tom. 1, col. 452. 


had done it, it would have become Him ; and to 
maintain the opposite, either in writing or preach 
ing, is altogether rash ; as that she never slept, or 
that in her sleep she actually contemplated God 
during this life. That which has no foundation 
in holy Scripture, nor on probable reasons, is des 
pised with the same ease that it is proved. 
Twenty-first truth : Christ could have given to 
His most dear Mother the most clear knowledge 
of the whole course of Her life, and of Her Son, 
at the instant of Her birth ; and had He done 
this, it had become Him, therefore He did it ; it 
is rash to infer this, and it is at variance with the 
holy doctors. It seems also to be contrary to the 
Gospel to say this, for Jesus was lost, and Joseph 
and Mary knew not where he was.... Twenty-third 
truth : If Christ be asked by such as these why 
He honoured His Mother with these graces, and 
not with others in His power ? Answer Who art 
thou, man, that searchest out the sense of the 
Lord ? Who art thou, that thou shouldest be His 
counsellor ? Who art thou, that thou shouldest 
presume to say, Why doest thou so? Let 
human speech put its finger on its mouth, and 
confine itself within its own limits." 

7. But what is to be said of those revelations 
which contain matter contrary, not to the unani 
mous, but to the general, opinion of fathers or 
theologians ; some novelty, or which reveal any 
thing undecided by the church, or in which a man 
says that God dispenses with him in some general 
law, whether natural or ecclesiastical ? Hurtado* 

* Tract, de delictis generantibus Suspicionem in Fide. tr. 5, c. C, 
JjU.n. 957. 


says that such a revelation, containing matter 
contrary to the common opinion of fathers and 
theologians, is not to be rejected as diabolical, but 
to be severely examined. These are his words : 
" A revelation which is against the common 
opinion of the fathers and theologians is not for 
that reason diabolical, but nevertheless it requires 
greater attention, and a more severe examination." 
He is herein followed by Martin del Rio,* who, 
having made the objection that in some revela 
tions are found matters inconsistent with the 
dictates of theologians, " There occur some things 
inconsistent with reason and truth, according to 
the common opinion of theologians ;" replies to it 
thus : " We deny that there is anything in their 
revelations which is plainly contrary to the sin 
cerity of the catholic faith, or which cannot be 
reconciled with it. If anything should perchance 
contradict the more general opinion of the school 
men, it is not therefore to be condemned at once 
as erroneous, for, piously and prudently under 
stood, it may be established on the authority of 
approved writers and sound reason." 

Matteuccif endeavours at some length to show 
that a private revelation ought not to be consi 
dered false and deceitful, or intended to dece,vei 
because it makes known some mystery or circum 
stance, even concerning Christ our Lord, or the 
most Blessed Virgin, either expressly not declared 

* Disquis. Magic, lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 3, J 4. 
t Tract. Theologo Canon, tit. 3, c. 3, art. 3, n. 6. 


by Scripture, tradition, the definitions of the 
Apostolic See, or not contained in the writings of 
the fathers. He adds, that the definitions of the 
Popes, fathers, or theologians, are not contradicted 
by those doctrines which explain anything that is 
not explained in the former, and on which they 
are silent, and concludes that there is -nothing 
strange in this, that a particular person may have 
a revelation upon a matter which has not been 
decided by the church. He instances a theolo 
gical dispute between the Thomists and Scotists : 
" Whether if Adam had not sinned Christ would 
have come in virtue of the present decree ;" and 
says that the power of God is not to be restrained, 
so that He shall not reveal to any the truth of that 
question. And foreseeing that novelty of doctrine 
might be objected to him, he adds, that kind of 
novelty is to be avoided, which introduces new 
doctrine, which enjoins another faith, and another 
rule of life, or breaks up Christian discipline, or is 
hurtful to the salvation of souls, and tends to their 
destruction. Father John Cortes Ossorio, of the 
Society of Jesus, in his celebrated suffrage on the 
revelations of the servant of God, Maria a Jesu de 
Agreda, sent to the Inquisition of Spain, main 
tains with all his might that private revelations 
are not to be rejected upon any of these conside 
rations, for, these notwithstanding, the revelations 
of S. Bridget and S. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi 
were approved. On the other hand, some think 
that those revelations are to be rejected whereby 
a matter is said to be revealed which is still mat- 


ter of opinion : Gravina,* with whom agrees 

Finally, with respect to those revelations in 
which God is said to have granted a dispensation 
from the common law, whether natural or eccle 
siastical, there is no doubt but that they may be 
true. God granted to Abraham that he might 
slay his own son, according to what we have con 
sidered elsewhere, but public credit was not to be 
given him, unless his act could be made good by 
a true miracle or a clear declaration of Scripture, 
according to the decision of Innocent III., J which 
is explained at length by Torre, I in his commen 
taries on S. Thomas. 

Hither also may be referred what occurred in 
the disputes that arose out of the election of 
Urban VI. When the English, to shew that his 
was the better cause, alleged a revelation made to 
a certain English hermit, who said that, while 
celebrating Mass, he saw in the most holy Host 
that Bartholomew of Bari was the true Pope, 
they were answered thus : " That this did not 
deserve to be suggested, because, as the canons 
declared, we are not to trust to invisible mani 
festations of this kind unless men prove it by 
a special text of Holy Scripture. Otherwise our 
faith would be in frequent peril from the false 
opinion of heretics who lead a life resembling 
it." Thus we read in the documents collected by 

* Lyd. Lap. lib. 2, c. 5, reg. 1- t Cit. qu. 23, n. 38. 

J De Hgeret. c. cum ex irtjuncto. 
2 2. 2dae. qu. 95, art, 3, disp. 2, assert. 3. 


Baluze, in the second volume of the Lives of 
the Popes who sat at Avignon. And when one of 
those persons, who used to say in those days that 
they conversed familiarly with God, had gone 
to Urban and said to him, that he had been fifteen 
years in contemplation in the desert, and had 
had a divine revelation that Urban was an anti- 
pope, and when he confirmed his story by no 
visible sign and no witness of scripture, he was 
compelled by torture to confess himself a liar, 
and would have further felt the rigid justice of 
Urban, unless at the request or entreaties of the 
French prelates who were with him he had 
granted him his life, as Raynaldus* relates out of 

8. This is what we find in authors who treat 
of this subject. But with respect to causes of 
beatification and canonization, if revelations be 
alleged contrary to the sacred writings, to the 
divine and apostolic traditions, to the morals 
and definitions of the Church, or in which any 
evil is recommended ; when, before proceeding 
further in the cause, the examination of them is 
to be entered upon, silence is to be imposed on 
the cause of beatification and canonization, ac 
cording to the law of the decrees of Urban VIII., 
which we have explained in the second book. If, 
indeed, any useless or curious matter occur in the 
revelations, if anything contained therein be at 
variance with the common opinion of the fathers 
and theologians, if there be any novelty in them, 

* Ann. 1386, n. 9. 


or anything said to be revealed which is still un 
decided in the Church, or any unusual course 
recommended, my opinion is, that they are then 
to be regarded as suspicious, and as proceeding, 
for the most part, from ideas and opinions en 
tertained by the servants of God prior to the 
revelations ; as shall be explained below. Under 
these circumstances the cause is not be stopped, 
but may be carried further ; yet so, however, as 
that nothing be inserted in the approbation of 
the same, from which it may inferred that the 
Apostolic See gave to them any authority, so that 
it should be wholly unreasonable to dispute matters 
thus revealed ; according to what will be said by 
and by, when we shall recite the words of the 
most wise Cardinal Torquemada, in which he 
expressed his approval of the revelations of S. 

But if revelations be alleged, yet not so fre 
quently for frequency alone may render them 
suspected, as Cardinal Bona^ observes, out of S. 
Francis of Sales which are profitable for the sal 
vation of souls, and from which are removed all 
those dangerous and suspicious characteristics 
already mentioned, then we may safely pronounce, 
in the previous investigation in which the writ 
ings of the servants of God are examined, that 
there is nothing in them which can prove a hin 
drance to the cause. But in the further investi 
gation, in which the Postulators contend that his 
virtues are more illustrious on account of his 

* Discret. Spirit, c. 20, n. 5. 


singular gift of revelations, those other conditions 
of which we spoke when we were treating of 
visions and apparitions must be examined, in 
order to see whether this assumption be well 
founded or not. 

When we spoke of visions and apparitions we 
said, that in examining them, and in order to dis 
tinguish the heavenly from the natural and dia 
bolical, the person to whom they occurred must 
be considered, their manner and their subsequent 
effects. All these must be considered also, in 
order to arrive at a true judgment concerning 
revelations, and their character, as is shown by 
Cardinal Torquemada in the Prologue to the 
Revelations, of S. Bridget, Cardinal Bona, Alfonso, 
Bishop of Jaen, in the Prologue to the Revelations 
of S. Bridget, and the learned bishop of Soissons, 
John Joseph Languet, in his preliminary discourse 
to the Life of Mother Margaret Mary, published 
in Paris in 1729, and by Gravina, in the second 
prelude to the second part of his work so fre 
quently referred to. 

10. Again, when we spoke of visions and appa 
ritions, we said that it was necessary to observe 
whether he to whom they were granted sought 
for, or desired them, whether his mind remained 
tranquil and joyful, whether he was free from all 
appearance of vain-glory, whether he excelled in 
the virtue of humility, whether he mortified his 
body. All this must be considered, too, in rela 
tion to revelations, as the doctors referred to 
teach. Scacchus* embraces them all in the fol- 

* De not. et sign. Sanct. c. 4, II. 8, p. 626. 


lowing passage : " We gather from what is said 
that in enquiring into revelations we must take 
into consideration the person to whom they are 
made : his conduct is chiefly to be considered ; 
first, his sincerity in the catholic faith, and his 
obedience to the Apostolic See ; next, integrity of 
life, modesty and sanctity in words and deeds. 
Whether they presume rashly and boastfully that 
they are taught by God any particular course of 
conduct, whether they imitate the Curii externally, 
and the Bacchanalians in private. Their sanctity 
is suspected who rashly and precipitately give cre 
dit to their own revelations without consulting 
theologians and confessors : so also theirs who 
desire to receive revelations from God, for learned 
and spiritual men greatly disapprove of such 
desires and petitions for revelations, as well as for 
miracles." Durant* explains the whole at length ; 
his words are these ; " Whence, if a man enriched 
with the graces and gifts of revelations, becomes 
thereby more humble and more ready to despise 
himself, because he sees that he receives them with 
out any merits of his own, that is a clear sign that 
he is not deceived, and that the revelations come 
from God." A little further on he saith : " Signs 
of the Holy Spirit speaking to us, whether Him 
self or by an angel, are a wholesome thought of 
mortifying the body, humbling the heart, preserv 
ing chastity, showing charity to the brethren, or 
acquiring, preserving, and increasing the other 

* De Visionibus, c. 11, p. 12. 
25 VOL. in. 


Cardinal Bona* explains many of these circum 
stances : " In order to ascertain whether a revela 
tion be from God, we must see whether it has 
those conditions which the apostle S. James 
attributes to the wisdom revealed of God, say 
ing, But the wisdom that is from above, first, 
indeed, is chaste, that is pure, and removed from 
all carnal and earthly pleasure ; then peaceable/ 
always calm, and contending with no one ; mo 
dest, and quiet in manner, gesture, and conversa 
tion ; * easy to be persuaded, that is, easily yield 
ing to the judgment of others ; consenting to the 
good, acquiescing in their opinion ; full of mercy 
and good fruits, that is, good works, and dispens 
ing liberally to all the needy ; without judging, 
as many do, who discuss the conduct and acts of 
others, interpreting them ill ; without dissimula 
tion, without guile and fraud, simple and sincere. 
These are the marks and characteristics of true wis 
dom, these are the virtues by which a divine reve 
lation moves men. But if those things which aro 
revealed tend to strife and contention, to worldly 
cares and vanity, to pride and obstinacy, they 
proceed, without doubt, from a carnal and worldly 
wisdom, which does not receive the things of the 
spirit of God, or from the evil spirit." Father 
Autonyt of the Annunciation says, that a revela 
tion is not to be considered safe if he to whom it is 
granted is more eager to communicate it to others 
than to his spiritual director, though under pre- 

* Discret. Spirit, c. 20, n. 2. 
t Discept. Mystic, qu. 2, art. 4, n.22. 


tence of the glory of God : again, that a revela 
tion is supicious if it was preceded by any anxiety 
arising from the desire of receiving it : and, finally, 
that a revelation is under great suspicion, which 
learned men, having examined it, consider to be 
false, if he who has it, notwithstanding such a 
decision, obstinately clings to it. 

Martin del Rio,-- and Pliilamariuif observe, 
that the object for which a revelation is granted 
ought to be especially attended to. Hurtadoj 
comprises the whole in a few words : " I sum up 
all this under one principle : a good life, good 
conduct, the practice of all virtues, and, above 
ail, humility going before, accomplishing, and fol 
lowing. All things agree with this rule rightly ex 
amined, and it is morally impossible that a soul pro 
foundly humble, can be culpably deceived. But 
if sometimes one is deceived, it is not by its own 
fault, for God in His providence so disposes it for 
greater humility and self-knowledge, so that it be 
not exalted by the greatness and multitude of reve 
lations. For so said S, Paul ; (2. Corinth, xii. 7.) 
Lest the greatness of my revelations should exalt 
me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an 
angel of satan to buffet me. " That which the 
bishop of Soissons has cited out of Gerson may be 
here referred to, with which agrees what Tanner has 
written on the prudence of Lewis a Ponte, in ex 
amining the revelations of Marina de Escobar. 

* Disquis. Magic, lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 3, ?. 6, n. 1. 

t De Revelationibus, c. i, tr. 3, n. 4. 

t Loc. cit. c. C,, 5?. 15, n. 965. 


11. Those things are common to revelations, 
which we spoke of as belonging to visions and 
apparitions, namely, mental joy in the beginning, 
which afterwards changes into sadness, and hor 
ror, which is changed into a certain interior sweet 
ness : from the first we learn that the vision and 
apparition are diabolical, from the second, that it is 
divine: so, too, we say of revelations, according 
to the teaching of Martin del Rio.* So also are 
those other things common to revelations, which 
we spoke of when we were treating of visions and 
apparitions ; namely, that they are to be most 
carefully examined which women say they have 
received, as Martin del Rio,t and PhilamariniJ 
observe : not that we may exclude women from 
heavenly and divine revelations, but that we may 
hint, as we have hinted before when we were 
speaking of visions and apparitions, that in the 
revelations of women the characteristics of a reve 
lation are to be more accurately considered. S. 
Teresa, in the last chapter of her life, speaks as 
follows : " There are more women than men to 
whom God imparts this grace. I have heard this 
from the holy Father, Peter of Alcantara. And 
I have found, too, he said, by experience, that 
they make greater advances along this spiritual 
road than men. For this he alleged many grave 
reasons, which it would be unreasonable now to 
recite, all of them, indeed, preferring the female 
condition." S. Thomasg having brought forward 

Disquis. Magic, lib. i, o. 1, qu. 3, . Quinto. advertendiura. 

t Ibiu. c. 2, qu. 3, ty. 3. J Ibid. tr. 1, c. 2, n. 13. 

? 2. 2de, qu. 82, art. S. 


this objection ; " If contemplation were the pro 
per cause of devotion, it must be that they who 
are more adapted for contemplation, "are, also, the 
more adapted for devotion : but the contrary is 
the case, for devotion is more frequently found in 
certain simple men and women who are deficient 
in contemplation : contemplation is not therefore 
the proper cause of devotion." To this he replies 
as follows: "Knowledge, and whatever else be 
longs to greatness, is an occasion for man to con- 
sider himself, and so not to trust himself wholly 
to God. And hence it is that this kind occasion 
ally hinders devotion, and in simple people and 
women devotion abounds by checking pride. If, 
however, man were to subject all knowledge and 
every other perfection to God, devotion would 
hereby increase. " 

All this, however, proves that pious women may 
receive the gift of divine revelations from God, 
and that more women perhaps than men have had 
them, and may have them. But this does not 
show that we are to cease from the usual care in 
their examination, or that greater is not to be 
taken, than in examining those revelations which 
are granted to men : considering the weakness of 
their sex, which renders them more liable to illu 
sions, as, in addition to those already alleged, 
Torre* in his commentaries on S. Thomas, Gra- 
vina,f and Matt8eucci,| and Joseph Acostag ob- 

* 2, 2dae. qu. 95, art. 3, disp. 3, 3 class, sign. ?i>. sexus. 
t Discern, veras. a fals. revelationibus, pt. 2, lib. i, c. 1. 

I De novissim. Temporibus, lib 2, c. 11. 
2 Tract. Theologo Canon, tit. 3, c. 3, art. 3, n. 8. 


serve. And with regard to the signs whereby 
heavenly revelations are distinguished from na 
tural and diabolical, let this be enough. 

12. The first question is this ; are they to whom 
a revelation is made, and who are certain it comes 
from God, bound to give a firm assent thereto ? 
The answer is in the affirmative, according to 
what we have observed in a former book/ * The 
only question among theologians is this : whether 
the matters of a private revelation be objects 
of divine theological faith. Some, indeed, think 
that he to whom a revelation is made neither can 
believe, nor is bound to believe, such a revelation 
with catholic faith ; that is, that by which we are 
made Christians ; seeing that it is not contained in 
the habit of the formal object of the same, but 
from another special light from above, either of a 
particular faith, or of prophecy, or of discerning of 
spirits. Arauxot adopts this opinion : others say 
that a private revelation, even with reference to 
the object revealed, ought to be believed by him 
to whom it is made, with divine theological faith ; 
and, consequently, whatever God reveals is a 
material object of divine faith, for the first truth 
revealing is the proper and proximate ground of 
assenting to everything God reveals, whether to a 
private person or to the whole church, and whether 
the revelations have regard to the general, or pri 
vate good ; of this opinion is Cardinal Gotti,J of 
good memory. 

* Lib. 2, c 32, u. 12. t Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23. n. 35. 

t Theolog. Scholastics. Dogmat. Tom. 10, qu. 1, dub. 3, ?. 2. 


13. The second question is, whether the pro 
bability of a revelation be sufficient, so that he 
who has it ought or may give credit to it, and 
derive from it his rule of life ; which in effect is, 
whether he, who, from hints, conjectures, or other 
reason, probably thinks that God has made a 
revelation to him, ought or may give credit to 
this revelation, so as to direct his own conduct 
or that of others according to that which he 
judges to have been revealed to him. John 
Salas* was of opinion that probability of a revela 
tion sufficed, so that one might give credit to it, 
and so conform his own actions and those of 
others to what is thus revealed. He gives as an 
example the case of a priest thinking, on probable 
grounds, that God had revealed to him that he 
might contract marriage ; and concludes that he 
might contract, and avail himself of that doubtful 
and only probable divine dispensation. 

Hurtadof distinguishes between a private reve 
lation concerning some good to be done or evil 
to be avoided, and a revelation of release or dis 
pensation, as they say, in a matter of precept ; 
and with respect to the first he says, that every 
one may abound in his own sense, and so may 
give credit to even a probable revelation on ac 
count of its matter where there is no danger ; but 
otherwise with respect to the second. Jerome 
Savonarola, in his compendium of Revelations,! 
seems to have spoken to the same effect, when he 

* 1, 2, Tom. i. tr. 8, disp. 1, tt 5, n. 51. 
t Jbid. c. C, 2 7, n. 876. $ P. 278. 


thus wrote in defence of them ; " Seeing, then, 
that what I have said is contrary neither to faith 
nor to good manners, nor to natural reason, and 
is very likely to be true, as I have shown at dif 
ferent times by many arguments, and that, more 
over, it leads men to live religiously, as I have 
found by experience ; it follows that he cannot 
be charged with levity who gives belief readily 

Torre* in his commentaries on S. Thomas, 
sharply attacks the opinion of John de Salas, and 
pronounces it nearly erroneous, and as soon as it 
was sent to press was erased by order of the tri 
bunal of the most holy inquisition, on account of 
the sad issues to which it might give birth: 
Gravinat discusses it at great length. 

Probability, therefore, is not sufficient, but 
evidence of a divine revelation is necessary, in 
order to give credit to it ; and this the more, if 
the matter revealed contain anything contrary to 
the commandment of God or of the Church. We 
have an example in 3 Kings, xiii. A prophet of 
God was killed by a lion because he acted against 
a certain divine revelation which he had received, 
to the effect that he must not eat in Bethel ; 
" Thou shalt not eat bread nor drink water, nor 
return by the same way that thou earnest." He 
gave heed to a probable revelation, which another 
prophet of God, although a wicked man, said he 
had received himself ; namely, that God had 

* 2. 2dae. qu. 95, art. 3. disp. 2. 
+ Pt. 2, op. cit. lib, 2, c. 2, 22 Dtibitatio gravissima. 


given him leave to eat ; " I also am a pro 
phet like unto thee, and an angel spoke unto 
me in the word of the Lord, sajing, Bring him 
back with thee into thy house, that he may eat 
bread and drink water. He deceived him, and 
brought him back." On this passage Tostatus 
speaks as follows : " Because God had spoken to 
the man of God that he must not eat in Bethel, 
he ought therefore not to have believed the con 
trary, until it became as clear to him that God 
had said that, as it was clear to him that He had 
said that he must not eat in Bethel. Therefore, 
until that became clear by a similar revelation, 
he was not bound by it ;" that is, he could not 
believe it. 

Neither can it be forgotten that, if we are 
speaking of that divine faith with which many 
say that he to whom a private revelation is 
made is bound to believe, the opinion which 
allows a probability of divine revelation to be 
sufficient, is utterly condemned. The holy Coun 
cil of Trent thus speaks : "As no religious man 
ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit 
of Christ, of the virtue and efficacy of the sacra 
ments, so every one, while he considers his own 
weakness and indisposition, may be in fear and 
alarm with respect to his state of grace ; for no 
one can know with the certainty of faith, where 
there is no possibility of error, that he has at 
tained to the grace of God." But if the proba 
bility of a revelation were alone sufficient, we 
might, by interior and repeated acts of contrition, 
believe with divine faith that we have attained 


to the grace of God, for this may be derived with 
the greatest probability from the universal re 
vealed proposition that the contrite obtains grace, 
and from another sufficiently probable, that we 
are truly contrite. Therefore, among the pro 
positions condemned by Innocent XL, March 2nd, 
1679, the twenty-fifth is this: "The assent of 
faith, supernatural and profitable to salvation, con 
sists with a knowledge only probable of a revela 
tion, yea, even with the fear wherewith one fears 
that God may not have spoken." 

14. The third question, what is to be said of 
those to whom the revelations are directed, or 
of others to whom they are not directed, whe 
ther, and what credit is to be given to them. 
This differs from the two foregoing ; those have 
reference to him to whom the revelation is made, 
and this relates to other persons, namely, those 
to whom the revelation is directed, and those to 
whom it is not. Cardinal de Lugo* teaches that 
he to whom that private revelation is proposed 
and announced, ought to believe and obey the 
command or message of God, if it be proposed to 
him on sufficient evidence ; for God speaks to 
him, at least by means of another, and therefore 
requires him to believe ; hence it is, that he is 
bound to believe God, Who requires him to do so. 
Arauxof agrees with him, provided those argu 
ments only be considered sufficient, of which we 
have spoken above. 

* DeFide, disp. 1, 11. 
( Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu, 23, tt 2, n. 50. 


As to the others, to whom the revelation is 
not directed, both Cardinal de Lugo and Arauxo 
maintain that they are not really bound to be 
lieve such a revelation ; nor, if they believe, is 
such an assent that of Catholic or divine faith, 
because it does not rest upon divine testimony, 
which is the formal and proper ground of divine 
faith ; it does not resolve itself proximately 
into a revelation made to a private person, for 
that does not appear but for the account of 
him who speaks of it ; nor into a mediate revela 
tion, as it is called, for it is not directed to them, 
nor does God speak to them. It resolves itself 
only into the human testimony of him who relates 
to others his own private revelation ; therefore, as 
the formal object of divine faith is wanting there 
in, the assent can be only that of a human faith. 

15. The fourth question is, what is to be said of 
those private revelations which the Apostolic See 
has approved of, those of tho Blessed Ilildegard, 
of S. Bridget, and of S. Catherine of Sienna. We 
have already* said that those revelations, although 
approved of, ought not to, and cannot receive from 
us any assent of Catholic, but only of human faith, 
according to the rules of prudence, according to 
which the aforesaid revelations are probable, arid 
piously to be believed. We then alleged some 
authors, we now allege others in addition. Mel- 
chior Canot thus speaks of not giving the assent 
of catholic faith to these revelations ; " Because 

*Lib. 2,c. 32. n, 11. 
t Loc. Theolog. lib. 12, c. 3, conclus. 3. 


to believe or not to believe those things which 
Bridget and Catherine of Sienna saw, does not 
concern the church, those things are by no means 
to be referred to the faith." 

Cardinal Cajetan* teaches, that we must cling 
to the " catholic revelations which were made to 
the apostles and prophets," as the foundations of 
our faith, but to private revelations which were 
made to the saints, although approved as probable : 
11 We cling to the catholic revelations as neces 
sary, so that he shows himself a heretic who 
obstinately opposes any one of them. But we 
cling to the revelations made to the saints, whose 
doctrine the church accepts, as probable ; so S. 
Augustine and S. Thomas have written, and 
experience continually testifies." Martin del 
Riot agrees with him, and says, "Henry de 
Hassia and Sibyllanus, both catholics, both reli 
gious, but, to speak the truth, somewhat bold, will 
have it that the revelations of S. Bridget and 
others ought not to be regarded as undoubtedly 
true, nor received as if published by the Holy 
Ghost. If this was to be understood of the cer 
tainty of catholic faith, and of its truth, also of 
those things which the Holy Ghost dictates,... it 
would certainly be true. But I think that no one 
with a little prudence thought anything of the 
kind. Their arguments, too, for they reach much 
farther, show that they had another meaning, 
namely, to speak of human or moral certainty, and 

* Opuscul. Tom. 2, tr. 31, c. J. 
t Disquis. Magic, lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 3, 5 4. 


of the ordinary speaking of the Holy Ghost in 
divine revelations, which is, in truth, to detract 
too much from the authority and opinion of the 
holy spouses of Christ." To the same effect is 
the form of approbation of the revelations of S. 
Bridget, by Cardinal Torquemada, " All and sin 
gular of them he is speaking of the books of the 
revelations I have accurately examined, accord 
ing to my ability, and find none of them, piously 
and modestly understood, to be at variance with 
the holy Scriptures, or the sayings of the holy 
fathers ; but I consider every one sufficiently con 
sonant and conformable thereto, and all of them 
piously and modestly to be received, and that they 
may be read in the church of God in the same man 
ner that the books of many other doctors, h. stories 
of the saints and legends, are licensed to be read to 
the faithful." Wherefore Vasquez* well observes, 
" The revelations of S. Bridget have been sanc 
tioned, and as pious, and without superstition, 
may be prudently received by the people." 

So also the fathers of Salamanca.! From this, 
then, it follows that any one may, without injury 
to the catholic faith, give no heed to these revela 
tions, and differ from them, provided he does so 
modestly, not without reason, and without con 
tempt. When, some years ago, they were dis 
cussing at Rome the resumption of the cause, 
Tirasone ; that is, that of the beatification and 
canonization of the venerable servant of God, 

* 3, pt. Tom. 2, disp. 117, n. 77. 
+ Tract. 17, de Fide, disp. 1, n. 115. 


Sister Mary a Jesu de Agreda, and her revelations 
were to be examined, the theologians of the 
seraphic religion, and the Postulator of the Cause, 
published a book at the Papal press, in 1730, in 
which we read thus : " Theologians and mystics 
acknowledge that private revelations, however 
approved and received, although they ought to be 
believed by those to whom they are given, among 
others the opposite" speaking of the opinions 
which are adverse to those revelations "retain the 
same probability which they had before the reve 

Hurtado,* after reciting the approbation of the 
revelations of S. Bridget, by the sovereign pon 
tiffs, speaks as follows : " It is not the meaning 
of these supreme pontiffs that we may not dissent 
from these revelations ; for Cardinal Torquernada, 
the vigorous defender of these revelations, and 
who recites the aforesaid words of the popes, 
dissented from the revelation made to S. Bridget, 
that the Blessed Virgin was conceived without 
original sin, and wrote a whole treatise to prove that 
she was conceived in original sin." The words of 
Cardinal Torquemada, " piously and modestly 
understood," are to be remarked ; they refer 
perhaps to the fourth book of the revelations of S. 
Bridget, where Christ addresses the saint, and 
complains of wicked priests : " They have lost the 
key by which they ought to open heaven to the 
miserable." And also to the passage in the 
seventh book, where we read this : " I say that 

* Cit. tr. 5, c. , K 5, n. 836. 


all those priests who are not heretics, although 
otherwise full of many sins, are true priests, and 
truly consecrate the Body of Christ My Son." A 
favourable and pious interpretation is to be given 
to these words ; namely, that wicked priests have 
lost the key by which they ought to open heaven 
to the miserable," not because they do not validly 
absolve, if they use the power which was given 
them with due intention on the proper matter, 
together with the form, but because the adminis 
tration is by law forbidden to wicked priests ; 
likewise, that heretical priests cannot consecrate 
the Body of Christ, not because they do not con 
secrate validly, if they have been duly and rightly 
ordained, and have an intention, and use the 
proper matter and form, but because the exercise 
of the power of consecration is also by law for 
bidden to them, as Durant explains it. 

16. The fifth question is, whether any apocry 
phal matter has crept into the approved revela 
tions. We say approved, for there can be no 
difficulty with respect to those which are not 
approved. The revelation said to be that of Paul 
is apocryphal, that of Thomas is apocryphal, that 
of Stephen is apocryphal, as was well observed by 
John de Ragusa, the Procurator-general of the 
Dominicans, in his sermon before the Council of 
Basil.* Speaking of the approved revelations, we 
answer in the affirmative ; the revelation ascribed 
by some to the Blessed Colette, is considered 
apocryphal, in which it is said that S. Anna had 

* Labbe. Tom, 12, p. 1086. 


three husbands, as Canisius* and Lorinusf show. 
The revelation said to have been mado to S. 
Bridget by S, Michsel and Elizabeth, was pro 
nounced apocryphal, as may be seen in the work 
of Cardinal Albizzi, j already referred to. There 
is also a revelation attributed to S. Catherine of 
Sienna, that the Blessed Virgin was conceived in 
original sin, and which is mentioned by S. 
Antoninus. | But as there is no trace of that 
revelation among the visions and revelations of S. 
Catherine, collected by the Blessed Raymund of 
Capua, there arises no slight suspicion, that this 
has been added to them, and is therefore to be 
accounted apocryphal, as is shown at length by 
Cardinal Gotti,|| and Martin del Rio.lT 

Gerson,** in his Treatise on the examination of 
doctrines, relates that Gregory XL when on the 
point of death, holding the sacred body of Christ 
in his hands, protested before all, and warned 
them to beware both of men and women, " who 
under the guise of religion, speak visions of their 
own head ; for that he, seduced by such, had 
neglected the reasonable counsel of his friends, 
and had dragged himself and the Church to the 
hazard of imminent schism, if her merciful spouse 
Jesus had not provided against it." Spondanustt 
thinks that Gregory alluded by these words to 

* Lib. 1, de Beata Virginie. c, 4. f In Act. Apost. c, 1. 

: Pt. 1, c. 40, n. 130, 140. Histor. pt. 3, tit. 23, c. 14. 

|| De Vera Eccles. Tom. 1, c. 3, II 1, n. 15. 

T Disquis, Magic, lib. 4, c. 2, qu. 7, sect. 3. 
** Pt. 2, consid. 3, col. 16. -ft Ad. Ann. 1373, n. 2. 


tho advice of Peter of Arragou, S. Bridget, and 
S. Catherine of Sienna. But Noel Alexander, in 
the Life of this Pontiff, considers the narrative of 
Gerson to be false, as the author of the first Life 
of Gregory, and a contemporary, says nothing of it ; 
and Gregory had approved of the spirit of S. 
Catherine, and had admitted her to be possessed 
of the gift of prophecy when she showed him that 
she was divinely cognizant of the vow he had 
made in secret about returning to Rome, and 
which was known only to the Pope and God. 

Pagi* the Younger may also be referred to in 
the Life of Gregory XL Gerson, indeed, has not 
mentioned the names of S. Bridget and S. Cathe 
rine. Mark Antony de Dominisf quoting Gerson, 
gives the names of these holy women. These are 
his words, worthy of an unworthy apostate ; " No 
doubt Gerson referred to S. Catherine of Sienna, 
but would not speak of her by name. It is no 
torious in history that that woman, contrary to 
the rule of humility which becometh saints, and 
contrary to the apostle, had made herself, being 
under delusions of visions and revelations, a 
teacher in the Church, and employed herself 
wholly in writing almost dogmatic epistles. By 
which and her prophetic apostolate, she deceived 
the wretched Gregory, and under the pretence of 
sanctity compelled him to resume, at an unseason 
able time, his residence at Rome. I lence resulted 
a horrible schism in the Church, the fruit of 

* Brev. Gest. Horn. PP. Tom. 4. 
t De Republ. Ecclesiast. lib. 7, c. fi, n, 26. 


womanish sanctity ; and yet she has been can 
onized. Who can approve of the canonization 
of such persons?" But Arauxo* refutes cora- 
pletly the words of this wicked and profligate 
man, where he shows that the holy virgin under 
took her task at the command of the Holy Ghost 
and of the Roman Pontiff. That Gregory was 
not deceived in transferring his seat, being bound 
to do so ; that the schism was foretold by S, 
Catherine ; that the Pontiff s departure out of 
France and his entry into Rome had a prosperous 
issue, as she had foretold ; that the departure of 
Gregory out of France was not the cause of the 

17. The sixth question is, whether a saint may 
have revelations, not from the Holy Spirit, but 
resulting from his own individual judgment and 
reasonings, so far as his intellect, influenced by 
pious dispositions, and, imbued with opinions on 
any subject connected with religion, judges that 
he has the divine spirit, when, however, he is in 
invincible error. 

We have already! said, when speaking of the 
prophetic spirit, that sometimes the holy prophets, 
when consulted, from the frequent practice of 
prophecy, utter some things of their own spirit, 
suspecting them to proceed from the spirit of 
prophecy. In the same way it may happen that 
a saint may think, from pre-conceived opinions and 
from fixed ideas in the imagination, that certain 
things are revealed to him by God, which yet God 

* Decis. Moral, tr, 3, qu. 23, 2 1, n. 2G. -f Cb. vi. 11. 


does not reveal. So speaks Hurtado.* He gives 
an instance in the revelations of S. Bridget, who 
says it was revealed to her that when Christ our 
Lord was scourged and crucified, His loins were 
girt with a veil ; the contrary is taught by many 
of the holy fathers, whom Suarezt quotes and 
follows. Certainly there are not wanting those 
who write that the loins of our Lord Christ were 
covered with a veil when He was crucified and 
scourged, and men learned in profane history 
show that those who were crucified were stripped 
of their garments, but had their loins covered ; as 
Menochius,t Tostatus,^ and Salmeron.H And 
Hurtado thinks that the revelation of S. Bridget 
proceeded on the ground of this opinion, or might 
have done so. 

Nicholas LancizzilF thus speaks of the revela 
tion of S. Catherine of Sienna, that the Blessed 
Virgin was conceived in original sin : " If S. 
Catherine said this, she did it, not from God re 
vealing it, but from her own spirit and under 
standing, as one of the spiritual children of the 
Dominicans, from whom she had learned it. We 
must know that when pious persons, abstracted 
from the senses, speak, they frequently speak of 
their own understanding, and are sometimes de 
ceived. This is certain, and persons experienced 
in these things know it, and it is clear from au- 

* Ibid. tr. 5, c. 6, 2 5, n. 834. 

t Tom. 2, 3, pt. disp. 36, sect 4, ?? Nihilominus. 

t De Rep. Ilebr. lib. 6, c. 2. Paradox. 5, c. 42. 

II Tom. 10, tr. 35. IT Tom. 2, Opusc. p. 49. 


tlientic ecclesiastical histories, and I could name 
some holy women, canonized by the Apostolic 
See, whose sayings and writing in rapture, and 
derived from raptures, are filled with errors, arid 
therefore not allowed to be published." 

The Bollandists* in the margin to the Life of 
Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, show that raptures may 
be above nature, and in their substance divine, 
but in their circumstances conformed to the ideas 
naturally received, which God leaves in the state 
they are in, since it was of no moment in the end 
He had in view. They instance those revelations 
of holy women in which Christ appeared nailed 
with three nails to the cross, sometimes with 
four ; and also those in which S. Jerome stands 
with a lion, or S. James appears in the dress of 
a pilgrim. They think, indeed, that those most 
fervent meditations on the Passion, of Christ, and 
those devout affections towards S. James and S. 
Jerome, proceeded from God, but that the Holy 
Ghost would not give a new and certain revelation 
as to the number of the nails by which Christ 
was nailed to the cross. But neither had S. 
Jerome, in his life-time a lion as his companion 
for it is not true that he met a lion, roaring 
loudly with a thorn in his paw, that he wiped 
away the corrupted matter and bound it up, and 
that the lion thus cured would never afterwards 
leave him ; this happened, not to S. Jerome, but 
to the abbot Gerasimus, but he is painted with 
a lion, because as a lion he roars against the here- 

* Mai. 25, Tom. 6, p. 246. 


tics, as we read in the Annals of Cardinal Baro- 
nius.* And S. James, when he was on the earth, 
did not wear the habit of a pilgrim, but is so 
painted that we may know that it is he in whose 
honour pilgrimages are so frequently made to the 
Gallician shores. 

In the heart of the Blessed Clare of Montefalco, 
the instruments of the Passion of Christ and the 
three nails by which He was nailed to the cross, 
appeared miraculously formed. Cornelius Curtius, 
an Augustinian, in a Treatise on the nails of our 
Lord,* shows from reason, authority, and pictures, 
that the nails were not three, but four. He says 
that he had seen the heart of the Blessed Clare, 
and adds : " Will you decide that the crucifixion 
was so because that holy woman s meditations on 
the crucifixion assumed that form? I think not, 
if you have common sense. These instruments 
were engraven on her heart, not to delineate the 
Passion of Christ, but to make known to posterity 
the fervent love of Clare. The Bollandists, taking 
this into consideration, say that it pleased not 
God to adapt and correct the images in the mind 
of Clare, according to the rule of the truth known 
to Himself; for that had no reference to the 
spiritual good which He procured for her by that 

18. The last question is, whether, in pronounc 
ing for beatification and canonization, we are to 
make any account of heavenly and divine revela- 

* Ad. Ann. 4- 0. 


tions. Contelorius"" teaches that sanctity is not 
to be inferred from revelations. Scacchusf thus 
writes : " It is to be laid down as most certain, 
that no argument of sanctity, available for the 
beatification and canonization of any one, is to 
be derived from revelations only, because it is 
very doubtful and difficult to determine whether 
the revelations proceed from God. Moreover, 
though it appeared to be probable that those 
revelations in question proceed from God, they 
will still be no certain proof of sanctity, for 
Christian perfection does not consist in them... 
neither do revelations make us more pleasing to 
God, or useful to our neighbours." Martin del 
RioJ speaks to the same effect. 

But as we said, while discussing the other 
graces gratis datce, that these were to be taken 
into account in the process of beatification and 
canonization, if there were proof of virtue in 
the heroic degree; although those graces are 
sometimes bestowed by God upon sinners, but 
more frequently on the just, so also we say the 
same of revelations, as is well observed by 

We therefore say in conclusion, that in the 
process of beatification and canonization, it is 
necessary that these shall be examined in the first 
place, and that a declaration should issue from 

* De Canon. SS. c. 5, n. 17. 
t De not. et sign. Sanct, 22 8, c. 4, p. 922. 

I Disquis. Magic, lib. 4, c. 1, qu. 3, sect. 2, 2 Objiciat forte aliquis. 
I Theolog. canon, tit. 3, c. 3, art 3, n. 25. 


the Sacred Congregation to the effect that they 
contain nothing against faith or sound manners, 
nor anj new or strange doctrine alien from the 
common understanding and custom of the church, 
according to the decrees of Urban VIII., and the 
principles which we laid down in the second book 
of this work. 

When this examination is concluded, and the 
virtues approved, it is necessary in another process 
to make proof of the heroicity of the virtues. It 
is expedient, and perhaps necessary, to ascertain 
his opinion to whom the servant of God made 
known his or her revelations. Durant* records 
the judgment pronounced by most eminent men 
on the revelations of S. Bridget. Pope Eugenius, 
in order to ascertain whether the revelations of the 
virgin S. Hildegard were from God, sent to her 
qualified men, who were to make a trial of her 
spirit, as we read in her Life written by the abbot 
Theodoric :f " But that Pope, of the highest dis 
cretion, astonished at hearing such things, know 
ing that all things were possible with God, and 
desirous of more minutely investigating the mat 
ter, sent the venerable bishop of Verdun, and the 
chancellor Adalbert, with other proper persons, to 
the monastery where the nun had lived enclosed 
for so many years, to inquire of her, without noise 
and curiosity, the truth of the whole matter. 
They humbly enquired, and she told them all that 
related to herself with simplicity. Hereupon they 

* De Visionibus. c. 3. 
t Surius, 17, Sept. lib. 1, c. 4. 


went back to the Pope, and told him and those 
who were with him in great expectation all they 
had heard." To the same purport are the obser 
vations of Scacchus,* who says that their sanctity 
is suspected who give easy credit to revelations, 
without consulting theologians and confessors. 
Besides this, we must examine the processes to see 
whether those characteristics already spoken of be 
present, by the instrumentality of which we ascer 
tain whether the revelations be from God or not ; 
and as far as it plainly appears, from what we 
have hitherto laid down, revelations, as making 
virtue more remarkable, will, be taken into the 
account in the process of beatification and canoni 
zation, as Arauxof has observed : " When revela 
tions and visions are united with the gift of 
miracles and sanctity of life, which mostly shines 
forth in heroic virtue, they contribute greatly 
towards the proof of sanctity, as it appears from 
the Lives of the Saints, and the Reports and 
processes in the causes of those who are proposed 
for canonization. 

* De not. et Sign. Sanct. 2 8, c. 4 
t Decis. Moral, tr. 3, qu. 23, n. 17. 






1,2 S. Philip Neri. 

3 Companions of S. Philip Neri. 

4 S. Thomas Villanova. S. Francis Solano. 

5 S.Rose of Lima. B. Colomba of Rieti. 

S. Juliana Falconieri. 

6 Fathers of the Oratory. B. Sebastian 

Valfre. De Santi. Matteucci. 

7, 8 S. Ignatius. 

9 B. Sebastian of Apparizio. 

10, 11, 12, 13, 14 S. Alphonso Liguori. 

15 Companions of S. Alphonso Liguori. 

16 V. Father Claver, S. J. Cardinal Odes- 

calchi, S. J. 

17 F. Anchieta, S. J. V. Alvera von Vir- 

mundt. V. John Berchmans, S. J. 

18 S. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi. 

19 Ven. Benedict Joseph Labre. 

20 Fathers of the Oratory: V. Fabrizio 

dall Aste. F. Mariano Sozziui. 
21,22 V. Margaret Mary Alacoque. S.Catherine 

of Bologna. 
23 S. Joseph Calasanctius. B. Ippolito Ga- 

24,25 S. Camillus of Lellis, with Fathers Da 

Ponte and La Nuza. 

26 Fathers of the Oratory : F. Talpa, F. Eus- 

tachio, F, Prever. 

27 Fathers Segneri, Pinamonti, and De 

Britto, S. J., with a Dissertation on 
Catholic Missions, by the Rev. F. Fa- 
ber, Cong. Orat. 

28 B. Leonard of Port Maurice. B.Nicho 

las Fattore. 
Uniform with the above, three vols. of Benedict XIV. on 

Heroic Virtue. 

Also Essay on Canonization and Beatification, 
by Rev. F. Faber, Cong. Orat. 

Any of the above volumes, to complete sets, may be had 

BQV 8 .814 H4 v.3 SMC 

Heroic virtue